“When Macky asked what had made her pick a kite instead of something else, she said, ‘Well, Macky, the boy was always looking down, and I wanted something that would make him look up for a change’.”-Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg
I dumped the bag of feed into the trough and moved out of the way as Eleanor came to eat. Though it was late afternoon, it was still blazing hot. I wiped the sweat from my forehead and made my way to the shade along the fence row. I pulled my phone out of my back pocket and began to scroll through my newsfeed. The pictures were the same as they were 10 minutes earlier and the stories hadn’t changed. I clicked the home button went to click another app when I felt compelled to look up. I raised my head towards the sunshine and took a long look at the sky. It was a deep blue and puffy white clouds slowly rolled by. Ever so slightly, I bowed my head lower and looked around our farm. The grass was green and the hayfield was turning a golden yellow. The wind was blowing and the sound of the cows butting against the trough was in the background. A car passed by on the highway and a bird flew overhead. “Why don’t I do this more?” I asked myself. I got up and walked briskly towards the Jeep. I climbed over the red gate and dropped my phone into the open window. I grabbed my Gatorade out of the cup holder, took a drink and closed the lid. I smiled to myself and walked towards Jon. We sat in silence as the cows ate their feed and moved out to the pasture. He put his arm around me and I laid my head on his shoulder. I closed my eyes and thanked God for such a sweet afternoon.
In that moment, I realized how much I had changed from the little blonde headed girl that ran around barefoot outside all afternoon, constantly looking up with a big toothy grin. Gradually, over the years my posture had changed. My world, once wide and vast and full of life, had gradually gotten smaller, more compact and almost handheld. My big personality was now contained to small filtered photos. My breaking free moments were once again chained to friend requests and follow requests from key players in my past. My hallelujahs were diminished in the light of an ever changing newsfeed.
Instead of living, I live-streamed. Instead of experiencing, I edited. Instead of looking up at the world around me, I looked down at a small interactive screen.
I can remember when I was little, Daddy would make my brother and I spend at least two hours outside after school on pretty days. We had a plastic jungle-gym that we thought was the best toy ever and often made it the center of whatever game we happened to be playing. There were many days, we would climb in the top and lay down. We would look up at the sky and talk and laugh and do our best to pull the dog (a very overweight Bassett Hound) inside with us. After many failed attempts, we would jump up and take off running again. We were happy. We were free as we could be in a world full of possibilities. We didn’t even know what the possibilities were yet, but we knew they were going to be good. So we relaxed, and played and lived for the next day when we could do it all again.
It’s hard to believe now, but that was a time when I was limited and supervised on the internet and didn’t have a cell phone to my name. It was a time, where a cell phone free moment wasn’t a luxury-it was a way of life. It was a time, where there was no such thing as looking up an ex on Facebook or new pictures of your old friends. It was a time when if someone wanted to contact you, they had to call you on the phone or come to your house or even, sit down and hand write a letter. It was a time when you went out with friends without letting the world know what you were doing. It was a time when your phone didn’t “ding” at 10 P.M. with an email from work. Everything wasn’t always instant. Everything wasn’t always so fast. The big moments weren’t always reduced to “timeline events” on a 4 X 5 screen.
Facebook, Instagram, and cell phones in general are amazing advancements and great tools for communication. Without them, you wouldn’t be reading this at all right now. They are avenues that can provide information that is life-giving. However, I don’t think they were ever intended to become a source of life.
The world is bigger than what is presented on the internet. The world exists, and will keep existing without Instagram. Without Facebook. Without automatic email notifications. Without keeping up with the guy who took you to prom or the girl that dated your husband in the 5th grade. Life is intended to be lived in the moment, right here and now.
I want more moments like the one I had that day on the farm with Jon.
Moments without my phone.
Moments staring into my husband’s eyes instead of posting how kind they are.
Moments without comparison.
Moments of contentment.
Slow, steady moments.
Moments looking up.
What about you? When was the last time you chose to put the phone down, and look up?