You know that scene in Beauty & The Beast, where Belle navigates around town and through busy streets with her nose in a book? Yeah, that was me. But my nose was in my phone.
We’re mostly all guilty of it, constantly consuming, staying connected. I’m actually 40,000 feet in the air as I write this and have paid for an internet package. I’ve used it more for texting than I have for the research I was wanting to do.
This need for connectivity has been something that I had been aware of for quite some time, but didn’t necessarily feel the need to change it. It’s 2017, everyone and their grandmothers are connected. The distance that technology has come and the path it’s going down amazes me (and sometimes scares me, robots freak me out). But it wasn’t until more recently that I felt the sudden need to make some sort of change.
When I first visited Alberta, Rob, his roommate and I went to Jasper. And those first few moments that I saw the mountains, I was in disbelief. It was beyond beautiful, more than I ever imagined. And the first thing I did was take a picture and immediately sent it to my friends and family. Harmless, right? I saw no problem in it.
I have thousands of pictures from that first trip. Tons of the mountains, and tons of myself. As I do with every trip I’ve been on.
Rob has this thing where he really doesn’t like when I text when we’re in the car (while I’m in the passenger seat, I don’t text while driving). I never understood it. I’m a great multi-tasker, I can listen while I read. I can talk while I type. So what’s the big deal? Besides, y’know, it being kind of rude. He would often point things out while we drove past, and I would often completely miss seeing what he was referring to because I was scrolling through my feed.
I love pictures and I love looking back on the memories. But what I didn’t realize at the time, was that I was seeing the world through my iPhone screen.
A few months ago, something terrifying happened. I lost partial to all vision in my right eye multiple times. Each time ranging from 20 seconds to 5 minutes. I had started piecing together a bunch of things that had been happening and writing out a long list of strange symptoms that all pointed to terrifying scenarios and sicknesses (as everything does on WebMD). But to be honest, the worst case scenario thoughts of “maybe it’s this” or “maybe it’s that” weren’t what scared me. What scared me was that I could be dealing with a potentially devastating loss. This might be the start of losing my vision.
I’m writing this post to share the realization I had. Around the same time this was happening, I had started to follow a girl named Emma Carey on Instagram (find her here). Emma has an incredible story that you can read here, which hit me hard. She went through a traumatic and horrible skydiving accident and lived to tell the tale. Her accident changed her life, and her outlook changed mine.
She had gone through the days, months, years before her accident taking her body and it’s capabilities for granted, as a lot of us do. Some of those capabilities, she currently cannot and may not ever get back.
To read her story while I was going through periods of vision loss was one of those “meant to be” moments for me. Had it been a year ago and I had been having all these symptoms, I would have been dramatic and freaking out about the worst-case extreme scenario situations such as “oh my god, what if I’m dying?!”. But in these moments, I was thinking “oh my god, what have I been missing?!”.
I had been spending most of my time being consumed by other things. My thoughts, my Instagram feed, taking the perfect selfie. I had been so consumed that I was never really taking in reality. I was never sitting down and just observing what was going on around me. I was never appreciating the little things such as the birds chirping in the morning, the breeze softly blowing the leaves in the trees, the mountains created from the shifting tectonic plates, the sun rising and setting and the immaculate glow it gives off each time. I was never looking.
I had never stood with my toes in the sand and the water drifting over them and really felt what that felt like. I mean, I had physically felt it because I have feeling in my feet, but I mean really felt it. Really appreciated the moment and the amazing things my body can do. The fact that I can breathe, I can smell, I can taste, I can feel, I can see. So many people are robbed of these little things that every day I was just taking for granted.
I had grown to love nature since I moved out west, I of course thought the mountains were beautiful, but now even a walk down a residential street is beautiful to me.
From that moment on, I vowed to live. I still take pictures of things I see beauty in, of my trips, of the memories I’d like to cherish, but I do it with a different approach. I breathe in the moment. I appreciate all it has to offer (as best as I can). I spend a lot of time observing and being grateful for the time I’m spending. I have a new found appreciation and love for the sunrise and sunset because I know how lucky I am to not only see it with my eyes, but be able to live it. And I have a deeper appreciation for those who surround me, as I am so grateful to have them still present in my life.
I’m not perfect by any means, I still love my phone and love to share things. I love sharing in real time and being connected. But I do it now with a deeper connection to myself and my surroundings.
I encourage all of you to bring in a bit more gratitude into the moment. The next time you’re going for a walk, working out, tasting something for the first time, appreciate it. Really absorb what your body is capable of doing, and how you feel in that moment. The universe is unfathomably big, and we are unfathomably small in comparison, and just look at what we can do!
I’d like to thank you, Emma, for sharing your story for the world to read, because it truly did touch me. And though I cannot relate to your specific situation, I know that is not what you’re looking for. Your optimism and determination is something that has ignited a fuel in my body and my mind and for that I will forever be grateful.
To those of you still reading, I encourage you to take the time to read Emma’s story, and let me know in the comment section below, what little moments and capabilities are you grateful for?
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