Put the Phone Down: Uncovering the Real Beauty of Life
“Put the phone down and relax for a minute.”
It was an oddly warm day for February in Pennsylvania, the temperature near seventy degrees. I’d just come home from a long day of teaching and was glad to slip off my constricting heels and toss my hair into a ponytail. My husband had retrieved the lounge chairs from the basement so we could eat our typical Tuesday dinner—fast food—in the sunshine.
Food wrapped crinkled into a tight wad, I’d finished my meal, and my mind was racing with the dozens of tasks I needed to complete. My next novel was coming out, and I had a list of social media updates to complete that could drown me. Text messages, notifications, and emails taunted me on my phone’s main screen.
Nose buried in the phone, I ignored the feel of the sunshine on my face in favor of the endless list of social media tasks. I sat beside my husband, my best friend, in stone-cold silence, burying myself in online conversations instead of real world ones. My mastiff Henry gleefully galloped with his toys in our tiny yard, fighting for my attention under the endless rays of sunshine.
I almost didn’t notice.
I almost traded in the warmth of the sunshine and the sights of our own piece of nature in our backyard for my phone screen.
I almost missed all of it.
But then my husband called me out. He took the phone from me. “You can take a half hour to get some sun and to relax.”
It was the wake-up call I needed.
The Lure of Social Media
Sometimes, the to-do lists of life make us miss the beauty around us. Sometimes we drown ourselves in tasks and in technology. Sometimes we miss what matters most—spending time with our family, enjoying the little moments of sunshine, and taking a moment to just breathe.
The song of social media, of technology, and of staying up-to-date is a tempting, siren song. It lures us in with promises of popularity and fame. It teases us with updates and must-see content. It sticks its claws in us, numbing us to things that really matter most.
Sometimes, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves where our focus rests. Certainly social media can be a powerful tool—it can enhance our business prospects, uncover our identity, teach us things, and even connect us with people around the world.
Nonetheless, when the desire for likes and shares overpowers our ability to recognize beauty that is right in front of us, we must force ourselves to evaluate our priorities. We must be willing to put the phone down, close the laptop, and let the notifications pile up from time to time. We must stay connected to the world around us, to our families, and to our own sense of joy.
Life’s True Beauty is in Your “Real-Life” Relationships
I’m thankful for a man who pushes me to go after my dreams, but also recognizes when I need to slow down. I’m thankful for the chance I got to soak in the sunshine and watch Henry skip around with his Jolly Ball. I’m thankful for the smile that spread as I realized how beautiful simplicity can be.
We all need to soak in the sun, to refresh our soul, and to relax from time to time. We need time to connect—not on Facebook or Twitter, but person to person.
Find a person who can be that alert for you to step out of the social media conundrum. Find a person who knows when you need to step back.
Most of all, find a way to remind yourself that life isn’t all about how many likes you get on Facebook, how many retweets you get on Twitter, or how many Youtube subscribers you can gather. Remind yourself that sometimes life is just about being and appreciating the real-life beauty around you.
Going Off the Grid to Find Life’s Meaning
As my favorite poem from Walt Whitman says about the meaning of life: “Answer: That you are here. That life exists and identity.”
Sometimes the beauty of life is realizing that it just is. It’s about taking a simple, warm February day to bask in the essence of just existing without searching for an Instagram-worthy photo opportunity. Sometimes it’s about going off the grid, even if just for a few minutes, to take in the real-world beauty around you just for the sake of taking it in.
Wherever you are or whatever you’re doing, make an effort today to put the phone down for a few minutes and soak in this crazy, beautiful thing called life.