On Friday my husband Joe and I went on a date. Joe had been wanting to try this new pizza place that had recently come to Indy. He had seen it promoted on a video featuring a guy doing a “flop test” with this pizza (when you hold it by the crust, how much does it flop over). Apparently, it was nothing short of perfect so we had to go.
We hopped in Joe’s car and started our 15-minute drive into the city. But instead of staring at my phone, I put it in the center console and decided to leave it there for the evening. A seemingly small decision to make, but our world has become so attached to its phones, I knew my hands would feel empty without it.
I wouldn’t be able to capture this pizza on camera, or take a picture of Monument Circle, or check my email, or scroll through Instagram while we waited for our food. But, I left it the car anyways, just to see what would happen.
Believe it or not, the world did not end within the 5 hours Joe and I spent downtown wondering the streets, eating fantastically floppy pizza and enjoying each others company. Nobody desperately needed me. Nobody needed to know we were on a date. Nobody needed to know our opinion of this pizza.
But this is what did happen.
My hands weren’t gripping onto a phone, so I held my husband’s hand instead.
I wasn’t staring at my phone screen, so I noticed how blue the sky really is.
At a crosswalk, I almost missed the “walk” light not because I was responding to a text, but instead because I was watching a bird perched upon a window ceil.
I read the street signs and watched people from out of town admire the city I take for granted.
Instead of taking a picture of Monument Circle, I noticed how much history it represents, how much time I’m sure it took to build.
At dinner, instead of checking Facebook while we waited for our food to come out, Joe and I shared the biggest breadstick I’ve ever seen while we reminisced on all the pizza places we’ve ever eaten at.
Instead of taking a picture to post on social media of our meal, I watched my husband’s eyes light up (and not from behind my phone’s camera) when he declared it, “the best pizza ever”.
When we finished dinner, we spent another hour strolling through the stores on Mass Ave enjoying the city in this new, phone-free way.
We watched street lights change colors.
Watched people reunite with old friends.
Watched kids eat giant cones of ice cream despite the slightly chilly weather.
Watched dogs hang their heads out of car windows.
We saw all the things we usually miss because we feel like we have to check our email or see what someone else is doing via their Snapchat story, we eliminated the thing that distracts us from being fully present.
What I realized, is that life looks a lot different, and better, when I’m not looking at it through my phone’s camera or only halfway engaged in the moment because responding to a casual text message that seems more important.
Joe’s smile is nothing short of stunning, even in a picture, but never quite the same as in real life, in that particular moment. I always enjoy our conversations, but taking away the distraction of checking my phone mid-conversation reminded me of how genuinely funny and interesting he is.
Technology and social media can be great. But it’s easy to let it fog the world around us. It can make it hard for us to be present, constantly feeling like we have to be talking or working or sharing what we’re doing.
It can cause us to miss out on so much of the beautiful life we’re presently living.