Stop, Look, and Listen

I’ll admit it: I’ve become one of those people who checks their smart phone compulsively.

Whether I’m on a train, in an elevator or simply walking to my next destination, I find a reason to check my e-mail, text messages, calendar or some form of social media almost constantly.

Just last weekend I was on my way to visit my family in Philadelphia. Walking toward Penn Station with my rolling suitcase, backpack and coffee in hand, I heard that infamous sound from my iPhone in my back pocket announcing that someone was trying to reach me via text. A sense of urgency took over. What if it was my dad? Was he able to pick me up from the station? What if there was an important message from work? Was it an emergency?

I immediately grabbed my iPhone from my back pocket, while still carrying my coffee, backpack, and rolling suitcase. Did I mention that I happened to be walking in the middle of Times Square while doing this? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened next. I accidentally bumped into a young lady. To make matters worse, both of our coffee cups erupted, leaving our clothes covered with coffee stains. Let’s just say, we didn’t become immediate friends and no, I didn’t pass her along my business card. And this was only to find out that I received a message that read “Hey.”

I was mortified but not only because of my embarrassing catastrophe. I also realized that I was becoming one of “those.” Somehow I became trapped in my own world of agendas and preoccupations. I became unaware and lost a sense of presence.

Whether it’s a smartphone or a busy schedule, so many of us are continuously bombarded with interruptions that can make us oblivious to our surroundings. It’s important to take the time to pay attention to the opportunities around us, but also to consider the larger impact we want to make in the world. What opportunities am I missing out on simply because I am not paying attention to opportunities outside of my own agenda?

As our PAGE Coordinator, I motivate students across America to take a step outside of their own lives and pay attention to the world around them so that they can make a global impact on students in developing countries. I hope that we are broadening their overall awareness – their ability to be active participants in their own lives, as well as the lives of those who are often ignored.

I challenge myself and everyone else to take some time to STOP what we are doing, LOOK around and LISTEN to the world around us. You never know, we might end up bumping into an incredible opportunity.

“To be really aware you must be able to know simultaneously what is going on thousands of miles away today, what may have happened centuries ago, what will happen anywhere in the world decades from now, and what is occurring, has occurred, or will occur on other planes of existence. And you must still act as if you know nothing. You must just sit and talk with other people and play the part which Nature has assigned to you.” Aghori Vimlananda