I stepped off my ten hour flight, and man, I was not ready for all that is Dallas, Texas. I had swam in a water park, walked around the city of Barcelona, flown from Barcelona to Amsterdam, slept overnight in a Burger King booth at the airport, taken the metro to downtown Amsterdam on a whim due to a flight delay, then boarded a flight home, all in the same shower cycle. I squirm and cry throughout the whole flight home, my body trying to tell me that I shouldn’t be leaving, and before I know it we have landed. Jake and Heather are sunburned from their vacation to Cabo. Cowboy Dan needs to talk to someone in charge. Katy can’t believe the line for customs because she has somewhere to be. They all have somewhere to be.
The worst part was that after three months of only understanding what I wanted to understand – I was thrust into this angry, unpleasant crowd and I had no other option but to hear everyone and all of their complaints. So I just waited in line, trying to get through so that I could see my mom and my best friend, Alice. I was so excited to see them, tell them all my stories, and show them all my pictures.
What you quickly learn is that no one is close to as half as interested in your experiences abroad as you are. It’s not because they don’t care…but they really just don’t care. It’s not a bad thing necessarily, and it’s a lesson I was glad to learn because now I know to never live in a moment with the anticipation of sharing it with someone else later. I have hundreds of pictures on my laptop that I took for people who don’t want to see them. I have stories I want to tell to people but I can’t because they start with, “when I was in Spain…” I have a new language I want to use but I can’t without being obnoxious.
What I’m trying to say, is that too many times we find ourselves remembering a moment before we even live in it. We take pictures before we look. We take videos before we listen. We share a story on social media before we talk about it with our friends. Losing my phone this summer was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Not only did I live every moment purely, but I was surround by friends who put their phones away when they’re together. They play cards when they go to the pool, they don’t scroll through their phones whenever they have nothing to talk about. I watched the Running of the Bulls without taking a video. Does that sound like an accomplishment? It shouldn’t.
I’m sharing this because I see too many students walking to class without looking up from their phone. I’m tired of sitting in a room of my friends and being the only one not on my phone. I’m tired of everyone rushing from place to place, not stopping to talk, and if they do their body language screams that they have somewhere to be. If you are reading this, I want you to imagine the next concert you go to or the next party you’re at, as if there were no phones. Imagine the four people sitting next to each other, not saying a word, without their phones to keep them company. Imagine watching your favorite band without a million cameras between you and the lead singer. See what a difference it makes.