No App for Human Experience

So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what we’re missing.  You know…in the hectic hustle of today’s routine, what aren’t we seeing?

For example…have you looked around at a traffic light lately?  Probably not, based on what I’ve observed recently.  Check it out.  The next time you’re pulling up at a stoplight, make a conscious effort to look around at the people in the cars next to you and across from you.  I think you’ll see a lot of what I’ve noticed of late – more often than not, we seem to almost robotically bow to our “smart phones” as soon as the light is red and we’ve come to a stop (mostly).

No eye contact or a random smile to a passer-by.

No moment to check out the surroundings.


Check email.  Do we have a text message?

Something important may have just happened; we must live in the history that this moment will soon represent.  You wouldn’t want to miss someone’s Facebook check-in at Divas-n-Dudes, right?

A good friend and someone I respect a great deal recently shared his strategy for reclaiming the peace and value of his daily drive.  He puts his cell phone in the trunk for the rides to and from the office.  Seriously.  No calls, no texts – just sunshine, radio, and the absolute inability to bow in such technologic affliction when stopped in traffic…never mind the greater focus on driving the car.

So what else do we miss?

While sitting in the airport today, I made a conscious effort to pay attention to my surroundings.  Initially inclined to get out the ol’ iPad and “check in”, I decided to instead spend some time observing and listening.

I was initially struck by the realization that I was somehow in the middle of what appeared to be a spot favored by seniors.  I was certain that I was well below the median age of this gathering of about a dozen or so senior citizens – perhaps even as much as 20 years junior to the youngest of them all.  They didn’t appear to all be together, rather, they seemed to simply congregate there as if this was a pre-determined meeting point for patrons of advanced years.  I felt like I had parked illegally in the “Oil of Olay Zone”, yet I stayed.

As I sat there, I came to notice an older couple sitting directly across from me.  They were sweet.  Obviously together for many years, they were sitting very close, sharing a sandwich and making light conversation with each other and with others nearby.  They were on their way to see some of their grandchildren and they commented that travel was a big undertaking for them.  I hope they’ve reached their destination safely and are in the process of making memories with loved ones.

Once on the plane, I was seated in a row with two others – a gentleman about 10 years older and a young lady about 15 years younger than me.  I started to settle in and planned for a quiet flight – time to get on the ol’ iPad, of course.  But then the gentleman struck up a conversation with each of us.

As the young lady responded to his questions about “what brings you to our city?” and the like, she shared her story.  She’s 27, grew up in a once little town that neighbors my own, is married, has a four year-old son, and a great extended family.  Her reason for traveling?  She has Cystic Fibrosis and is participating in an advanced drug trial at a medical center far from home.  Once a week for three to six months, she will board a plane as she did today and go to the medical center for additional testing and treatment.  She shared that, ultimately, her hope is that the research will keep her alive so she can be what she enjoys most – being “Mommy.”

Once again, I was reminded that life is precious.  I was drawn to thoughts of loved ones Elissa and Marc – and the young lady on the plane…all people who know too well the value of the moment.  They aren’t beholden to pocket-sized gadgets that obscure our view, yet they make today count with clarity that tomorrow is not to be counted upon.

Suddenly, the purpose of my own travel was back in perspective.  As my former boss Luke used to say…”It’s just work.”  No doubt.

To accurately reflect the real value in the day, I’ll submit this:  One year from today…or even three or five…at best, I’ll be unable to recall today’s occupational accomplishments without some reliance on my calendar archives or perhaps some meeting notes, though I will surely recall those I encountered in the airport and on the plane with ease.

In fact, I won’t have to recall them because I will actively remember them.

Meanwhile, those grandparents and their extended family will surely remember today’s meaning and experiences with remarkable and exacting detail.

And as for that young mother…how could today’s importance not be known and recalled under such circumstances?

I’m thankful and blessed that they shared a slice of their day and their stories with a random passer-by…me.

So, try to consider the “stop” light the “watch” light.  Don’t miss the ride.

There’s no “app” for human experience.

Peace, Y’all.  Keep it Lit.


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1 Response to No App for Human Experience

  1. Damon Ghanayem says:

    Very nice, my brother. Very nice.


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