Be Present Where You Are

April 13, 2017

Am I the only one who goes to the grocery store 4-5 times a week?

Grocery Rush - present

Am I just a poor planner, or is it because I have spawned fruitarians and we are always in need of some sort of fresh fruit or berry? Or, is it because I think thawing frozen meats is complicated, so I cannot bring myself to buy it ahead of time and freeze it?  Could it be because I generally don’t make a list even though I watched my mom judiciously walk through the aisles of the grocery store in her head as she wrote down what was needed before we left for the grocery store?

I remember marveling at that at the kitchen counter.

Is someone out there now scheduling a grocery intervention with me?  If not, have faith that my mom may have grocery tutorials planned for me while we are there over Easter. 😉

She went shopping once a week.  She fed eight total people on a daily basis for a week.  We did not eat out.  My husband says she could make a bicycle wheel taste delicious.  She needs a really big trophy.

I am a grocery getting failure.

While I was at the grocery store for what felt like the third time last week (okay it may have been the fourth, so that is why it felt that way), I had a couple of epiphanies about life in our first-world country, aside from the one where we should move to Italy because my oldest son consumes that many grapes.

Grapes galore - present

First of all – why can’t one store carry all of the things I want and need?  I have to cover the land of three markets before I have restored my pantry and refrigerator to normal levels.  I concede – I could probably go to one store for everything, but I would be missing one arm and one leg and that would make shopping even more difficult.  😉

My friend Brittany over at A Healthy Slice of Life is amazing at all things food and everything that orbits around it, including successfully feeding little mouths all sorts of wholesome goodness.  I’m plotting a plan to follow her around, but there are stalker laws people!

Always an obstacle impeding my progress on this planet.

Anyway, as I checked out at Publix, with my random assortment of goods, and hovered by the card-reader I was so intensely focused on what I was going to do next I realized I barely made any eye contact with the cashier – despite the fact that I have been making a point lately to really look at people’s faces and my surroundings.

Card Reader - present

I just don’t seem to notice as much as I think I should.

I feel like I sometimes passively move through my day from place to place.  As I took my bags and left – it occurred to me how our human transactions have been rushed and depersonalized at the hand of technology.  Our interactions with the world have become harried.  We continually have the capability to do more with each advent of a smarter machine.

Can you imagine the anxiety medication you would need if you suddenly had to return to dial-up internet connections?

When I worked in Corporate America, technology afforded us the opportunity to ‘catch up’ in the evenings by working from home at night, but the result was coming into the office the next day and actually being more behind.  Everyone else was also catching up, feeding the frenzy to get ahead but getting behind at the same time.  A cycle and pattern that kept the spokes on the wheel a blur.

Working from Home - present

We have become busier at the hand of innovation.  This isn’t new news to any of you.  We are packing more and more in resulting in a difficulty of being present where we are.

We are delving into our smart phones to access our email and social media.  Not to mention, our minds are a constant ticker tape of lists, activities and scheduled events captured in our virtual calendars, yet repeatedly pondered over in our minds.  It is hard to be present in one place because technology offers us the opportunity to be present in parallel.  We can be in more than one place at one time.

It is hard to be present where you are.

We easily observe this in children.

Distracted By Technology - present

Work tasks float in the air at dinner time, the next day’s to do lists jab at us through our pillowcases and we reach for our phones to ‘jot’ down things we remember as we drift to sleep, thus robbing our slumber from freeing us from the mayhem.  Then we dip one more time into social media to see if anything is new or interesting.

There must be a release within us to make us less hurried and less busy.  I am often reminding myself to flee the hamster wheel and be present where I am. Breathe the air around me at the moment and visually devour my surroundings because I don’t know what the air will be like in the future and frankly, I don’t need to predict it.

Sand Angel - present

We are robbing our presence for things that are not present.  There will be time for the future when it takes its role as the present.

I am not saying I don’t prepare.  I am a planner (although I am a bit of a procrastinator in the execution of some things).  I am saying don’t be distracted by the future such that it makes you ill-prepared for the present.

It applies in all things.

A decade ago I would have likely handed over a hand-written check, or I would have carefully counted out cash and placed it into the cashier’s extended hand.   After receiving my change, I may have rushed out of the store, but I wouldn’t have also reviewed the latest sales promotion by Old Navy in my email, what a random FB friend from high school had for breakfast, learned about the latest trend in parenting, and also texted with several friends to plan our next playdate for our kids – all while waiting for my groceries to be tallied.

Blurry bits.  Quantity not quality.

The cashier is over on her island with the methodical beeps interrupted by my occasional request to bag my groceries a certain way (why on Earth do they put raw meat in the same bag with fruit all of the time?!) and I am there by the card reader.  With my smart phone.

I remember when one of my friends of 38 years started texting me more than she was calling me. I was like – what in the world is wrong with her? I think I even complained to a mutual friend. Now I cannot tell you the last time I spoke with her. It is all in textercation recorded in emojis and words on my phone.

No voice.

No touch.

But…no conversation would occur otherwise.

We are too busy with diluted transactions sped forth by modern technology.  Solutions causing the problem.  And, of course we have kids which breeds busyness.

Gas station attendants have been left leading solitary lives in the confines of quick marts held hostage by soda bottles and pining for a thirsty or hungry enough traveler willing to take the risk on the hot dogs rolling on the stainless steel cylinders.

Gas Station - present

I must confess – my sympathy for them does not go deep enough though for me to expend the time necessary to walk in and consider a candy bar.  I like the convenience of pay at the pump.

So, while I want to become more intentional in my interactions and presence, like everyone else I am still capitalizing on conveniences to get more done in my day. Let’s be honest, it is so I will have time to go to the grocery store every single day. 😉

Regardless, I am reminding myself to be present where I am.  Being present won’t detract from my ability to accomplish what I need to accomplish, it will enhance what I do accomplish.  I will feel fulfilled and connected to real people and to the world around me.  My mind will be free to absorb real moments and real surroundings.

At least I hope it will!

So how did we get here?  How have we arrived thousands of years beyond cave drawings and oral narratives.  When did these communication devices come to be that seem to do everything but cook, clean and drive for us?

The History of Communication

Of course it all began with the spoken word long ago, which progressed to documentation via cave paintings roughly 33,000 years ago.

Cave Drawings - present

The usage of smoke signals came next around 150 A.D.  Chinese soldiers could transmit messages using smoke signals along the Great Wall.

Great Wall - present

At around 301 A.D. the first handwritten manuscript was completed.  Seven-hundred years later, Carrier Pigeons took to the air around 1150 helping deliver messages great distances.  The Gutenberg Printing Press, which was invented in 1440, helped spread learning to the masses and paved the way for the Renaissance, Reformation and Scientific Revolutions.

Developed in 1836, Morse Code became the first transmission by wire, followed by the culmination of Alexander Graham Bell’s work in the creation of the telephone forty years later.  A decade prior to the Bell’s invention, the typewriter had taken the stage having as its first publication The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.

Commercial radio took to the waves in 1920, followed by television in 1925.

Antique Radio - present

Accelerating to the 60’s email evolved in 1965 and the internet, which started as a US military project, was born in 1969.  In 1992 the first Short Message Service (SMS) or text was sent via computer.  Nokia was the first provider to support it on cellular devices beginning in 1993.  Instant messaging took the stage in 1996.

And finally, the biggest distractor of all, the arrival of social networking sites in 2002.  Friendster started it all and now we have FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter to name a few.  These gems absorb at least one-fourth of our online time.

Social Media mayhem - present

The iPhone, which is my personal conduit to all things connected, was introduced in 2007.

Honestly, it is hard not to capitalize on all of these modern conveniences to be voyeurs into the lives of others.  It is very intriguing.  But when we are engrossed in their insignificant activities or in the tats of tomorrow, we detract from our ability to be present in the present.

Be present where you are on your journey!

the mamabrain at mamabrains

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