As i desperately tried to keep pace with my 1 year old new found runner at the Helsinki International airport whiling away time before catching my next flight, i was relieved to find her stopping in between her marathon to play with a small slightly older girl equally excited as her. Both the girls were standing outside a kids toys shop and marveling at the colorful sunglasses and hair accessories stacked neatly on a makeshift shelf outside the shop.
And as my little explorer reached out to grab a particular colorful hairband, i stopped her arm short before she could bring down the entire pile on the ground. And as i hurriedly tried to pick my trouble maker in the arms and elope from the scene before she could create any more ruckus, i noticed her new friend still standing before the counter, enjoying the little mama daughter tiff thoroughly.
I looked around for an adult or anyone else who would be accompanying her just to make sure she is safe before leaving but strangely no one in particular was looking at us, she was too small to be travelling alone, i thought and looked hard again everywhere, this time walking a few steps all around to widen my search area. To my surprise, there seemed to be no one watching over her.
Not knowing what else to do, i shouted aloud hesitantly, “Hello there is this girl in a red jacket, is anyone with her?” A face suddenly shot up from her phone and a woman in her late 30′s stood up looking as if i had woken her up from a bad dream. “Rachael, Rachael, when did u get there, come here right now”, she shouted hard giving the look of a school principal who had just caught you bunking your class to her horrified daughter.
The girl by now visibly scared by all the shouting and screaming ran straight to her and meekly occupied the vacant seat next to her. She waved to me and said thank you. I smiled and waved back wondering what was so important in her phone that she couldn’t keep an eye on her child at the busy international airport.
And as i turned to walk back to my terminal, i stopped to look at the pretty little girl again. She had stopped crying now and was fidgeting with her little pink Hello Kitty travel bag while sucking on her nipple.
But what took me by surprise was to see her mother again deeply immersed in her phone. She was almost on the verge of getting her child lost at the airport today but it didn’t seem to have any effect on her.
And before i could decide whether i should go and give her a piece of my mind or just give up on this careless mother and go back to my terminal, she held her phone high in the air and took 3 clicks of herself from different angles. Apparently she was updating her Facebook status and posting pictures online.
I could not help but feel sorry for the little girl seated next to her, who had now settled to curving up on her small seat and going to sleep on her own.
How could she act so irresponsibly, i thought to myself and then suddenly out of nowhere as if to answer my question, i remembered all the times i myself had ignored my own little one, trying to take a phone call, typing an sms or just plain going through the post updates on social networking websites. How could i point a finger at her, when i myself was accused of the same allegations?
And isn’t it the case for so many of us modern technology dependent people. Being constantly glued to your phone or any other brightly lit screen has become more of an addiction than a necessity. Be it a metro ride, waiting on the bus stop, shopping, driving, eating, we are immersed with the little miracles of technology that claim to keep us connected with the rest of the world every waking (and sleeping!) moment.
But while the number of hours we spend online has greatly increased, the total number of hours in the day has not. Invariably, we steal from the time we had assigned to other work to make room for this additional activity.
Since the time at work or taking care of the house is fixed and unavoidable ,Unfortunately we end up stealing this time segment from the few hours we could have spent with our family, friends, colleagues or just simply on taking care of our own self by taking a walk, exercising, cultivating a hobby or doing something productive.
We do not realize that the time we put in to keep in touch with our distant acquaintances on the internet and people we hardly know asking them how they are doing (mostly without intending to know!) or browsing through twitter updates….is the time we could have spent with our families, getting connected to the real more valuable people in our life, calling up old friends to wish them on their birthday personally, making your kids favorite yummy waffles and blueberry syrup on a lazy Sunday morning, getting wet playing in the garden hose with our little ones and chasing butterflies and squirrels together ,or just reading bed time stories before putting your bundles of joy to sleep.
But now instead, we post updates, tick off things from our never ending to do lists, check unnecessary mails and scroll through Facebook pages sometimes without even noticing who posted what.
The lady immersed in her phone reminded me of all the times i must have ignored my little one and missed out on a precious moment I could have spent with the most important person of my life.
And a voice in me reiterated that if i didn’t had enough time to be with the people that matter the most and to do the things that make life worth living, i better set my priorities right now.
So the next time you look away from a loved one or interrupt an important conversation to pick up the phone and give in to the distractions of modern life, stop to remind yourself that in the end you would not be remembered for the no of status updates you posted, the emails you responded to or the messages you replied to but for the time you spent building strong bonds with your close ones, nurturing relationships and making loving memories with the ones who matter.
Stay connected to your real life, Live Mindfully now….. Don’t look away!