Watch the football. Pick up the phone. Tap Twitter. Scan the feed. Pull down. Refresh. Read snippets of tweets. Scroll up. Scroll down.
Drink some beer. Glance up at the TV. Tap into Instagram. Refresh posts. Love that photo. Ignore those.
Put the phone down. The goal is close. Energy rising. Commentators excited. Bodies moving forward. Ahhhhhh, he’s missed it.
Pick up the phone again. Flick through those one million conversations.
While sitting in the room with people.
I read a tweet this week by a random guy, tweeting a quote he had just heard from Rob Bell’s UK Holy Shift tour. It’s a tour I actually wanted to see, but it just didn’t work out.
So when I did a quick search to see what people were saying, I saw this quote from Rob:
“Surrender your agenda to the thing that is happening in the room.”
Scrolling through our phones is one of the ways we spend time. It isn’t necessarily a decision where you are deliberately trying to ignore the people around you, but it is a distraction. It’s like you’re in the room but actually not in the room.
Finding distraction instead of being present is one of our biggest challenges.
In the palm of our hand, we can entertain and be distracted like no other device in the world. But being distracted goes deeper than this.
When eating a meal. Am I actually tasting the food, or am I just consuming what’s on my plate?
When preparing the meal. Chopping those potatoes, grating the cheese. Am I there? Noticing the shape, feel and smell of those foods? Or is my mind a million miles away thinking through another task or decision to make. Working out the thing I’ve got to sort out.
Being present is one of our biggest challenges as our agenda is often so full. But maybe the ideas we need would come easier sometimes if we switched to what was in front of us.
Like fully noticing and drinking that coffee. Smelling and tasting it. Noticing the flavour. Rather than running around in our mind about the decisions that need to be made, or, ‘multitasking’ through more social media.
Taking time to just be one with what we are doing. It’s called concentration. Focus. Mindfulness.
That actually leads to achievement.
I don’t think England’s winning penalty shootout would have happened if Eric Dier was thinking about the 24 million people watching him. Or what he was going to be doing later on.
He needed to focus. Concentrate. Be in the room. In the space. Think through the process he was trained for. This is mindfulness as much as being present in a conversation.
Its wrapping hands around a cup of coffee to be present with that and appreciate everything it offers.
Maybe I was scrolling through my phone as I’m not the biggest football fan. But everyone else in that room was. And maybe that’s the point.
You surrender your agenda because what really matters is that you share that moment with others.
Get to understand why they love the game so much and try and find some piece in it, that you can understand, and think, even though it’s not my thing, I get it.
Why do we need to do this?
Because this is the harder road that leads to a fuller life. Being present and in it for the everyday experiences and the moments that bring us closer to people.