(See the full article on Darling Magazine)
I have an interesting relationship with social media. When I’m in a good place and feeling connected to myself, God, and loved ones, social media is a part of my life. But it doesn’t play a leading role. I could do without it, and be fine.
However, when I’ve lost connection to the things and people that matter the most, I find that I become like an addict searching for my next hit. I start looking and hoping for someone or something, or that magic number of “likes” to tell me I’m important, loved, or worthy. Sometimes I’m not aware that I’ve lost touch until a few days pass and I realize something inside feels off.
Here’s out it can play out:
My alarm rings loudly on my phone, and abruptly wakes me up.
I check Instagram and my email before begrudgingly getting out of bed and dragging my feet to the coffee pot.
I sit down with my journal, a devotional book, and my double espresso to start my day.
By 9:00 a.m. I’m at my desk, responding to emails, making a to-do list for the day, and intermittently going on social media.
When I’m walking, waiting for the subway, or even talking with a friend, I’ll find my eyes on my social media feed.
The day goes on, until I find myself exhausted, lights out, setting my alarm for the next morning. The last thing I do before drifting off to sleep is check my Instagram and email one last time.
And then I wake up the next day, and start the whole thing all over again.
It’s embarrassing for me to share that all too often this can be a reality in my life.
What I’ve been noticing is how distracted I am, and how much I have allowed social media to take over my existence. What am I looking for when I check the feed for the tenth time in one day? What void am I hoping to be fulfilled? What magic do I think will happen?
There may be a lot of answers to those questions, but mostly I’m longing to be grounded in joy, clinging to the bright things in life—those childlike moments where our souls feel most alive.
Recently I traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina with my best friend and two of my sisters. It was an opportunity for just that: reconnection to the things that matter most in life.
Before we left I felt a nudge inside to not be on social media while I was away. To some that may seem easy. But it had been almost a year since I took any significant time away from the internet.
Exhausted after a week of back-to-back shoots, editing, and client meetings, Sara and I boarded our red-eye flight to Buenos Aires, and I made the decision to not only stay away from social media, but also texting and all emails. The challenge I gave myself was to be completely present, and live fully in each moment. Like Ernest Hemingway wrote, I wanted to “learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might.”
We arrived at sunrise and took a cab to my aunt’s house in the city. After sleeping a few hours we biked all over town, stopping occasionally to hear stories of my aunt’s childhood, sit at a cafe for fresh juice, and soak up the magic of golden hour at sunset. There was no rush, there was no hurry. There was no place to be except in the moment that was at hand.
My sisters met us a few days into the trip, and we welcomed them with hugs, cheese, bread, and vino blanco.
Our days were filled with long breakfasts of espresso, croissants and dulce de leche on our patio or at a corner cafe. We walked and biked most places, did yoga in the park, and sprawled in the sun with books in hand. Strolling with arms linked through markets and cobblestone alleys, we talked and laughed so hard the tears streamed down our cheeks. We danced in the street to a local folk band, and bought souvenirs for our loved ones. We went to dinner at 11:30 p.m., and drank good red wine, and ate meals so rich that even weeks later I can still remember the smells, the spices, the textures.
There were nights when the four of us would lay in our beds and talk until the wee hours of the morning. About our fears, the things in life that we want and hope for, yet rarely take the time to share with others. Tears came naturally. Almost as naturally as the laughter. It felt like we were little girls at one big sleepover. It was carefree, it was light, there was depth, and without the distraction of our phones and social media we were unabashedly free.
One evening after a long day of exploration we took a boat taxi home Our cheeks were sunburned, and we were all dozing in and out of sleep, chatting or just silently just being. And I had this moment of stillness where I realized, these are the days. Life is magical, and it’s happening all around us if we put our phones down and pay attention. Our trip was everything I could hope for because of the people I was with and the moments we shared, and our active decisions to remain present with ourselves and each other.
I thought it would be hard to be away from technology. But what I found is when I am truly present it’s the most natural experience. We are created to live fully in each moment, and much to my surprise, when I actually live in the moment it comes as natural as my next breath. Seven days passed by, and not once did I miss social media, texts or emails.
My soul felt rested and connected. I felt alive.
Going back to the city and to demanding jobs, social lives, and to-do lists I wonder if we can hold onto pieces of that presence throughout our day-to-day lives. There is work to be done, bills to pay, and social media sometimes plays an active part in our careers and lives. But what if, in the midst of all of that we created space to be present. To put our phones on silent and for a few hours have a long dinner.
Instead of looking for a moment to recreate for a stranger online, I wonder what would happen to our relationships with our families, loved ones, and the world as a whole if we made the active decision to value the moment at hand? My guess is that we would have lives filled with compelling stories and relationships, and the idea to be present would feel just as natural as our next breath.
Photos c/o Tutti del Monte