I look up from my Apple Watch as I walk through the terminal. It’s a quiet Saturday and people shuffle from gate to gate, heads buried in their phones with earbuds in.
A SkyTrain whizzes past me overhead.
I look to my right through the large glass windows at a huge plane – a Boeing 777 – waiting to depart to Shanghai. Passengers wait to board, already looking exhausted, in blue faux-leather seats.
I look toward the top of the gate sign and notice an analog clock sitting on top of the signpost. It’s the kind with a “minute hand” and an “hour hand.” I don’t even think kids learn about those in school, anymore.
There is something about this moment – looking down the long terminal in the Detroit McNamera A Concourse and seeing all the gate signs lined up like street signs – and I imagine myself in America in the late 19th century.
I imagine cobblestone streets and analog clocks and butcher shops instead of airline gates and McDonald’s. This was a life a little more than 100 years ago; look how far everything has come.
And I realize –
A person in the 19th century could never imagine this. This is amazing.
Words appear on my wrist that allow me to communicate with friends and colleagues. I speak words into my watch and it sends them back to those people.
Giant flying machines take you to China in 15 hours.
All the food you could ever want is lined up, shop by shop.
And everyone is unimpressed. They are walking past me with their earbuds in, faces illuminated by their devices. Maybe they are talking with people. Maybe they are just eavesdropping on people’s lives on social media. Maybe they just don’t know what to do, so they are mindlessly thumbing through news stories.
In the past 20 years, technology has advanced more than it had in the 100 years prior. The computing power needed to put a space shuttle out of the atmosphere now fits inside your pocket.
And we don’t care. We are numb to the incredible things around us. We are numb to the people around us. We are numb to the world and beauty around us.
I remember that earlier in the morning I looked out the windows at Sky Harbor airport at the moon, which was large and setting over the Phoenix skyline as the sun came up. I tried to take a picture for my Instagram, but my phone wasn’t good enough. The picture was so lame compared to what I could see with my eyes.
Instead, I looked at the moon as it descended through clouds over the city and thanked God for His creation.
Because it is amazing.
I board my flight to Connecticut and I look out the window as we sit at the edge of the runway. Lightning strikes in epic fashion from the cloud to the ground just behind the air traffic control tower. I sigh – we aren’t going to make it out before the storm hits and are going to wind up grounded on the tarmac as it passes over.
Instead, the engines roar to life and we start to move. My heart races. We ascend and I look out the window as sheets of rain obscure the view of Detroit as we take off through the storm. The plane rocks and we burst through the clouds around 10,000 feet into sunlight and smooth air.
It was amazing. We took off just in front of the storm and probably a full ground stop of all flights. The views were incredible.
But people around me sleep.
They are unimpressed.
More research is revealing how anxious, sad, and depressed we are becoming. Chemically, we are being impacted by social media, a faster lifestyle, and a loss of wonder. Of course, it is more complicated than that. Our loss of wonder is just one piece.
What would it mean for us to reclaim our sense of wonder? To stop and appreciate the moon setting over the city, not for the Instagram, but just because it is beautiful?
What does it look like to embrace the storm as we push our way through, rather than embracing distraction and distance?
There is something powerful to be found in living in the moment and in embracing a life that isn’t constantly run through the lens of social media. I am struck by how quiet the airports I fly through on a weekly basis have become. Heads down, earbuds in, people looking up only to snap a pic to post later.
There is a freedom to be found there. There is a freedom in detaching and embracing the “now”. We liberate ourselves when we set our phone down and focus. Something wonderful is happening around us.
I look out my window at clouds moving past me and lean back. This moment is amazing – and the moment, whatever moment you are reading this within, is amazing, too.