The days leading up to my trip to Argentina were nothing short of hectic.
When I’m in a good place and connected with myself, God, and loved ones, social media is a part of my life, but it is not a lead role. I could do or do without it, and be fine.
When I’ve lost connection to the things and people that matter most to me, I find that I am like an addict looking for my next hit. I’m on the prowl just looking and hoping for someone, something or that magic number of followers or likes to tell me I’m important, loved, worthy, enough. Sometimes I don’t even realize that I’ve lost touch until a few days or a week goes by, and something inside feels off.
Here’s how it can play out for me (and maybe I’m not the only one):
My alarm rings loudly on my phone, and abrasively wakes me up.
I turn it off, and check Instagram and my email before begrudgingly getting out of bed and dragging my feet to the coffee pot.
I make my double espresso, add a dash of almond milk and sit down with my journal and a devotional book to start my day.
By 9:00a.m. I’m at my desk, responding to emails, making a to-do list for the day, and intermittently going on social media. (You know just to check things out).
When I’m walking, waiting for the subway, and sometimes even when someone I love is talking to me 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 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 keep noticing about my life is how distracted I am, and how much I have allowed social media to take over my existence. Really, what am I looking for when I check my feed for the tenth time in one day? What void am I hoping to have fulfilled? What magic do I think will happen?
Desperately I’m longing to be grounded in joy, clinging to the bright things in life — those almost 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: A 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. To me, it had been almost a year, since my last sisters trip, that I had any significant time away from the internet.
Exhausted after a week of back to back shoots, editing and client meetings, my best friend 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 also, “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.”
There was no rush, there was no hurry. There was no place to be except right in the moment that was at hand.
We arrived at sunrise to Buenos Aires and cabbed to my Tîa’s house in the city. After sleeping a few hours, we biked all over town taking stops to hear stories of my Aunt’s childhood, to sit at a cafe for fresh juice, to just take a moment to soak up the magic of golden hour at sunset. There was no rush, there was no hurry. There was no place to be except right 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 laid in the sun with books in hand. Strolling with arms linked through markets and cobblestone streets we talked and laughed. (And I mean the kind of gut laughter that can only be subsided by tears streaming down your cheeks.) We danced in the street to a local folk band and bought little trinkets for the rest of our family that wasn’t with us. We went to dinner at 11:30p.m., 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 we would lay in bed with the windows open and warm air floating through the room until the wee hours of the morning. We’d just talk about our fears, about the things in life that we really want and really hope for, yet, in a busy life find little time to actually speak out loud. Tears came naturally, almost as naturally as the laughter sometimes. It felt like we were little girls at one big sleepover. It was carefree; it was light. There was depth and with little pulling at us from the outside world (emails, texts, statuses, likes) we were unabashedly free.
Coming home one evening from a long day of exploring, we were on a large boat taxi. All of us sitting near each other, cheeks sunburned, dozing in and out of sleep on our way home, chatting some and sometimes just laying on the sister closest just silently 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 just put our phones down and pay attention. This whole trip was everything I could hope for. Yes, Argentina is incredible, but what made this trip was the people I was with and the moments that we shared. The connection and our active decisions to remain present with ourselves, with each other and with the moment at hand.
It was carefree; it was light. There was depth, and with little pulling at us from the outside world (emails, texts, statuses, likes) we were unabashedly free.
I thought it would be hard to be away from technology. I wondered if I was going to be able to last that long away from it. But what I found is that when I am truly present, it is the most natural experience. We are created to live fully in each moment and much to our surprise when we actually live in the moment, life comes easy. 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 daily lives. Yes, we have jobs and for a lot of us social media is a very active part of our career. 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 to like, I wonder what would happen to our relationships with our families, loved ones and really, the world as a whole, if we all made the active decision to value the moment at hand?
It’s my guess that we would have lives filled with compelling stories and full relationships and the idea of being present would feel as natural as our very next breath.
When or where was the last time you felt unabashedly free?
Images via Tutti del Monte Photography