I was looking forward to viewing the solar eclipse that made its way across the United States earlier this week. The experience was far beyond my expectations.
It’s hard to put into words just how awesome, beautiful or surreal the scene was. From the first glimpse of the moon beginning to cover the sun to the main even of the total eclipse and diamond ring, it was an event I will never forget.
Before the big day arrived, I decided I wasn’t going to take any pictures during the 2 minutes of the eclipse. My thinking was there would be plenty of other people capturing the moment, who had much better photography skills than I possess. Instead, I decided to just watch the event and take it in.
I made a good choice. It was nice to be totally in the moment without distraction.
While taking pictures is a great way to capture a moment, at times, I think the best way to preserve a memory is to give an event, or person, our undivided attention. Not every event or occasion requires we reach for a device to take a picture. Sometimes, all we need to do is just take it in.
The TV blared the news of the previous weekend events as I sat in the doctor’s office waiting room on Monday. It was a continuous recount of the violence that occurred in Charlottesville. After a while, I began to feel a weight from this stream of negativity. So I looked away from the TV, put in my earplugs and read a book.
I like to be informed of current events, but I don’t need to see image after image of intentional acts of hatred. Too much exposure to this type of negative press eventually begins to influence our thinking and how we view the world around us. At least it can for me. That is not how I want to be influenced.
Based on my own experience, I know there are a lot of good people doing good things in the world. I come in contact with them every week, if not every day. It’s these types of activities and people that I want to focus my attention on and to be influenced by.
And fortunately, they’re in large supply. We need only look for them.
What does each of these items have in common?
- A car’s blinker
- A rattling rattlesnake (I experienced this just last month!)
- Outstretched arms and a smile
They are all signals that communicate something to those in the area. A car’s blinker signals the driver is about to make a turn. A buzzing rattlesnake signals that it feels threatened and wants you to move away. Open arms and a smile almost always signals that you’re about to get a hug!
Every day we encounter and respond to multiple signals, quite often without even being aware of them. In fact, I think that we’re often not aware of what signals we’re actually sending to others.
Consider the following:
||We are likely signaling…
|Have our headphones or earbuds in…
||We aren’t interested in interacting with others or don’t want to be disturbed.
|Are focused on our smartphone when we’re in the presence of others…
||There’s something more important, or more interesting, than what we’re involved in right now.
|Look someone in the eye and ask questions when talking with them…
||We are interested in them and what they’re talking about.
|Say “Hi” to someone we know when we see them…
||We noticed them and that they are important enough to us to say “Hello”.
||We are friendly and approachable.
Think about what you’re regularly signaling to those around you. Do those signals accurately reflect the message you want to send or the person you want to be?
Let’s work at being aware of the signals were sending those around us and, where applicable, consider signaling something more positive.
Last week my wife and I took our nephew to Crater Lake. During the school year he did a report on Crater Lake (complete with a presentation in front of the class) so it was fun to be there when he first laid his eyes on the subject of his study. We all had a great time seeing the lake, taking a tour around the rim, and visiting the lodge and visitor center. It was a very enjoyable shared experience that we will all remember for many years to come.
I love shared experiences where good lasting memories are made. Not only does the experience make my life more rich and interesting, sharing the memories with the people who were also there is a great way to not only relive the experience, but to build connections and deepen relationships with those involved.
Isn’t that what life is about: sharing experiences, creating memories, and building relationships with others?
Keep your eyes open for opportunities to have positive shared experiences with those closest to you and then take advantage of those opportunities. By doing so you’ll be building relationships as well as memories.