Recently, as I was driving to my parent’s house I noticed some workers on the telephone poles and realized I hadn’t paid much attention to the wires suspended in the sky in quite some time. I started to think about how crazy it is that somehow those wires allow us to communicate with each other. Then I started to think about wireless phones and how I can’t even wrap my mind around that technology. And how on EARTH did someone have the ability to dream up a system where two people in different parts of the world could see each others faces in real time and then execute that vision.
We have spent so many years with this wireless technology that most of us don’t even stop to think about it or appreciate it anymore. We pick up our phone and expect it to work. We don’t think about how or why.
It made me wonder how many other things we treat in a similar way. Things that have become so familiar we no longer marvel at them. They have lost the magic and wonder.
Five minutes outside with Brighton will make you reclaim some of that wonder. “MOMMY A STICK!!” “Oh Mommy a BIGGER stick!” “Woah there’s the moon!” “Look at the leaf!” When was the last time you found a leaf on the ground and thought “wow, that’s amazing”? In his book, “To Shake the Sleeping Self”, Jedidiah discusses a theory he has about time and how it passes. As children the days never seem to end. We looked forward to Summer vacation and half way through we would wish school would come again because the Summer seems to never end. As adults we almost can’t keep up with how quickly the days go by. His theory is that as children we are full of wonder; constantly trying to figure out how things work, what everything is, what is means, how everything fits together. And then we get older and we decide we know how everything works. Everything is familiar and more understood and in many cases, perhaps we no longer care to understand. I fully believe this to be true.
I realize it’s impossible for us to slow down enough to have the wonder of a two-year-old. We have jobs and responsibilities and let’s face it, we DO know how a lot of things work now. But what if we tried to reclaim a bit of that wonder simply by slowing down? Trust me when I say, I am not very good at this and by no means am I offering advice here. And truthfully, I am in a season that I both want to speed up and slow down. I’d love to move past the exhaustion and waking up at night and move onto well, sleeping again. But with that comes little girls that are becoming bigger girls and that is bittersweet.
For Lent I did a very cliche thing and stayed off social media and time away from that trap never disappoints. I realize how much I don’t miss whatever I’m scrolling to find. Time slowed down. I was present. I wasn’t caught up in comparing and worrying about what I should and shouldn’t be doing. I sat across from people and listened. I soaked in moments with the people I was with, not worried about capturing the perfect photo to share with everyone on the internet. I was inspired to spend more time doing things and spending time with people that made me forget to even look at my phone. I felt more full and less drained. I ate my food and enjoyed it. Well, I still ate faster than I should because I have kids and they don’t let me eat. You get the picture. I was able to reclaim a bit of that wonder because I wasn’t looking at the world through the lens of my phone.
George Foy discusses this idea in an article on Psychology Today. He says, “People can retain roughly 7 chunks of information in short-term memory. Posit a person working on a complicated computer file, fielding two emails from different people on different subjects, staying aware of colleagues, listening to music, thinking of dinner, and you've already got double or triple the number of chunks he or she can successfully retain and process….Release is what I'm truly craving here, and release comes from emptiness. The emptiness of silence, of lonely landscapes, of closed eyes, of lying down in a dark, quiet room. The drop in tension that happens when we take a vacation somewhere calm, the psychic leap of a good joke when it flips the world on its head for a splinter of a second. Such void cuts off the fascist flow of constant information, and allows us to recalibrate. To think better. To question, for a second, our baseline.”
My mind is craving that rest; That “release” l as Foy describes it. Taking time away from social media gave that release to me to some extent, but I’m realizing I have to be more intentional with the little things throughout the day. Not turning on the TV right when Brighton goes to bed, not having my podcasts playing every minute I’m in the car…taking time for silence. Silence has always been my enemy because it’s when my anxiety creeps in and reminds me of all the things I have to worry about. And because I never allow silence, I not only drown out my fears with noise but I also drown out the voice of God who will silence those fears for me.
When was the last time you put down your phone to enjoy dinner with friends? When was the last time you didn’t Instagram a picture perfect moment? Do you struggle to let silence into your life like I do? I’m learning to love it. My addition to noise isn’t going down without a fight, but the wonder and joy of being present isn’t either.