"No one can take away our experiences."
This is what a close friend of mine, whom I look up to, told me on a long car ride to Denver, Colorado.
And it struck a chord deep within me, because of what I have subconsciously saturated my mind with for the last few years-- things that I am certain you will be able to relate with as well, things that have gotten increasing prevalent in our lives.
I wake up in the morning and do my usual checks: Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, twitter, tumblr, vine, etc. and I am sure you do as well.
On these, I see videos of, read articles about and fill my mind with:
men doing ridiculously silly covers of Disney songs (especially from Frozen),
military husbands reunited with their families,
the most extravagant and elaborate proposals,
the pros and cons of social media,
outspoken individuals making a case for or against faith,
reflections gained from being a parent,
quotes about dealing with teenage relationships,
children doing the most outrageous or adorable things,
couples giving marriage advice,
unique and crazy inventions (such as the firework machine gun),
alternate endings and connections to and with our favorite movies (Titanic and Inception-- need I say more?),
finding our age, identity or purpose in 20 easy questions or less.
And, if I am being completely honest, it is driving me slightly insane.
Don't misunderstand me: I enjoy seeing and reading stories that inspire me, videos that make me laugh and articles that help me to better understand the viewpoints of others. But there becomes a problem when we become obsessed with keeping up with these various things instead of going out and experiencing them for ourselves in our lives.
This hit me when I walked into a hot tub, not knowing my faithful iPod stayed in my pocket for a good ten minutes. Then, to my shock and dismay, I realized its presence. It was dead and dead indeed.
At first I was horrified. How would I not be able to keep up with my identity online? For long I cherished "being in the loop," in regards to social media. When people would ask me what I thought of so-and-so's video or link, I would love being able to voice my opinion and not be in not-so-blissful ignorance (especially pages like Humans of New York which merit great discussion).
But now I was forced to do something:
Live life in reality.
As superficial and simple as it sounds, I could not check my iPod for the time, write poetry when bored, iMessage or text friends, Snapchat anyone, check or update Instagram or Facebook or even set an alarm anymore.
While this is surely an inconvenience, it helps me to be 100% mentally there, regardless of who I am with or what I am doing.
It forces me to go out and make my dreams and aspirations realities.
Now I can go and make a silly cover of some Disney song;
Now I can plan a proposal for some future hope;
Now I can research and strengthen my case for faith;
Now I can start planning the homeless shelter I have envisioned;
Now I can write an online and hopefully thought-provoking article.
Of course I could have done these in the past. But I was blinded to how often I used my time delving into and following the special lifetime moments and experiences of people whom I have never met-- those things that had merely gone viral.
I am not saying that I am going to throw away my camera, computer and other devices because they require time and attention. Nor am I saying that I will not, in time, purchase another iPod if my current one cannot rise above six feet.
What I am saying is that I am now able to see those things for what they truly are:
And consequently, they should not be replacing the invaluable gift of life, of each day, that we are given. Yes, enjoy the videos of a creative engagement; yes, follow the pages of people who you admire, their advice which you respect; yes, analyze and test that quote from tumblr. But do not allow those things to rob you of your time. Do not let them distract you from finding, planning and accomplishing your God-given talents, hopes and dreams. Carpe Diem. Seize the day.
Time is irreplaceable.
Experiences are irreplaceable.
Let's start valuing time as though there were no resurrection of it; and let's begin experiencing the fullness of life even now as you finish reading this article.