The doctor gently tapped on the door and casually strolled in. We shook hands, briefly making eye contact as he introduced himself while simultaneously reaching for his computer that rolled on an odd contraption with wheels. “So, what brings you in today?” He asked, never looking up as he furiously typed on the keyboard. “Well, I have this chronic pain in my arm,” I responded weakly, not sure where to aim my train of thought or whether to elaborate. The doctor looked up at his screen, making sure he dictated it correctly as he repeated, “Pain…in arm…long time.” I felt as if we were communicating via Skype as he seemed more at ease talking to his computer screen rather than looking at me. It certainly made me feel like I was not the most important object in the room. The entire conversation proceeded this way, the doctor inputting data with eyes frozen to the screen and only an occasional glance at me, culminating with his decision to prescribe a new pain killer. Even then, as he was explaining the efficacy and dosage, he was typing in the information concurrently eyes glued to the screen. We both got up and left the room at the same time, his job done and me left stunned. I’m quite sure that if he followed me to the pharmacy, he would not have recognized me as his last patient.
A similar version of the scenario described above has happened to me over a dozen times while seeking medical help in the past few years. But, this is not a diatribe against the medical community. Rather, a glaring example of how so many of us have lost the important ability to be present, live in the moment, make contact and cherish the human connection. With crazy busy schedules, deadlines and pressures of life, we have learned to compress important events and multitask ourselves out of being optimally effective. All, I would argue, to our detriment and overall quality of life.
We live in a society where being connected is ubiquitous and a socially acceptable manner, excluded from a diagnosis for ADD. When’s the last time you met a friend for coffee or lunch without them peeking at their smartphone every five minutes? Ignoring us in full view is offensive enough, but multitasking while talking on the phone is equally annoying as we can hear them tapping away at emails or flipping through TV channels as they pretend to listen. Even man’s best friend can teach their owners a lesson as dogs stop to smell the roses and appreciate natures beauty while we text away and blindly ignore our surroundings when we walk in the beautiful outdoors.
Life is not the breaths you take but the moments that take your breath away. We miss so much of the beauty and depth of our existence on a daily basis when we fail to appreciate the simple things: Glorious moments like sunsets, trees blowing in the wind, flowers blooming and all the various sights & sounds that color the sky as we chat away on our cellphone on our walks; Deep connections with others as we are too scattered to focus in conversation; Special experiences as we are too concerned with capturing the perfect photo and uploading it to Facebook rather enjoying the actual moment ourselves (go to a ballgame or concert if you don’t think I’m exaggerating). We are unconsciously missing so many glorious sensations.
Life is an unchained melody and played in both a major and a minor key. But we need to open up the chords to hear our music to fully enjoy the symphony and live in perfect harmony. This can only be realized when we are present, mindful and living in the moment. Our minds are wired to wander, so this takes effort to focus with conscious awareness. Practice appreciating the visual sensations that nature gifts us, connecting on a deeper level with others, and dedicating your undivided attention in any social situation. Like a radio, dial in the right frequency and tune in to maximize all that life has to offer. You may be amazed on how many precious moments you are missing.