Finding a place to sit, I balanced my chai tea latte toward the table. I flung my bag on the booth, slid my coat off my shoulders. A deep breath relaxed me as I lifted the hot drink. Its warmth radiated through my chest as if someone had laid a shawl over my shoulders.
There was too much on my mind. The plan was to upload everything from my brain onto paper. Another deep breath as I opened my bag to dig out my notebook and pen. I fished in one side, then the other. Fruitlessly, I repeated the search until I finally resigned myself to having forgotten them.
No matter, I would pull out my phone and jot down a few tasks on a checklist. Neither side pockets nor inner compartments revealed my phone. Here I was, for the single purpose of organizing my thoughts in a peaceful place, and I had no tools with which to do it. I looked at my latte. I could ask for a to-go cup, go home for my notebook and return. I could go home and try to recreate the atmosphere there. I looked at my latte again.
After one more breath, I decided to take this rare opportunity to just . . . be.
Agitation fought relaxation. Thoughts would pop into my mind, my head would jerk, as if by reflex, looking for my phone to text, tweet, or post it. Deep breath . . . there is nowhere but here. There is no time but now.
Slowly, my surroundings came into focus. The child at the neighboring table being prodded to eat more quickly. The colors of the walls. The fading light outside. Could it be this was all here just moments ago? My head jerked to text, tweet, or post my thought. Deep breath . . . nowhere but here.
A baby cried, out of view, but not out of earshot. The murmur of the people. The music too soft to notice unless the tables are empty. How strange to think I was probably the only one hearing it. I smiled to myself. No where but here. No time but now.
I was practicing mindfulness. Engaging my senses one by one. Releasing my grasp on the past and future.
I love my gadgets. My smartphone is my umbilical cord to the world. But in the process of becoming more connected, I recognized had become disconnected. In the process of managing more tasks, I had become mindless. I am, at times, blind and deaf to the life that surrounds me.
While I won’t be discarding my gadgets any time soon, I definitely learned from this experience. I need to be mindful, not only of the present, but of those times when I have gotten lost; distracted by places in which I don’t reside, worrying about things that don’t exist, speaking to people who aren’t there.
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