There’s a stretch of road near where I work that is peppered with cavernous potholes and they seem to be growing. While I usually don’t keep both hands on the wheel, there was one particularly frigid morning when my car was cold and stiff and every bump went through my spine like a hammer drill.
The horrible condition of the road aside, the experience made me reflect on how important it is to always be aware of our surroundings. And not unlike like many things in life, it is very easy to fall into cruise control. Mental and muscle memory makes it possible to get through a lot of stuff without fully being engaged. Walking, driving and even casual conversation are a few examples. When was the last time you said, “hello” or “good morning” or “how are you doing?” and realized that you said that out of habit?
A good friend of mine once proclaimed, “Be where you are when you are there.” At the time it seemed like annoying rhetoric from someone who often said things just to get a reaction. Yet then I started to notice situations where I could tell others had their cruise control on. And then it started to bother me.
Especially when I noticed it in myself.
Worse, when someone else accused me. “Mike, be where you are when you are there,” they would proclaim.
Usually my wife.
Aside from being frustrated that my goofball friend’s silly comment was true, the idea of being where you are when you’re there really stuck with me.
Which brings me back to the potholes. In addition to being mindful of our surroundings so that we don’t accidentally trip, or crash or break an axle, I believe it is important we strive to be present at all times.
We already sleep roughly a third of our life away.
Not only is it disingenuous to offer pleasantries out of habit, not being engaged is like pressing the mute button on life.