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See More by Seeing Less

Distractions rob us of experiences

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Also published on Medium.

I had my dinner without looking at it.

So what’s so special in that? Don’t we all do that all the time?

Usually the TV’s on, or we’re checking our smartphones — so we’re not really looking at our food apart from glancing at it once every few minutes.

But it wasn’t just the dinner - I wasn’t looking at anything else either.

It was a unique experience — the restaurant was pitch dark. So dark that you could close your eyes and it wouldn’t make a damn bit of a difference. Oh, and you weren’t allowed to use your cellphone either.

As I tried to rely solely on my sense of touch, taste and smell to figure out what dish was kept on my table, I thought, maybe this is how blind people must feel like. Maybe that’s what the experience was about — to know how difficult it is to eat if you’re blind.

I ate a morsel of food. It tasted so good, I didn’t think I was capable of enjoying such a simple dish so much.

And then it struck me —

It was the same dish that I had few days ago, back at my place. The dish was prepared the same way — the difference was in the way I ate it. That day I was eating it while talking to a friend on the phone. Today I was eating the same dish inside a pitch dark room.

Maybe this is why blind people are called differently-abled. They must relish their meals more than the rest of us, who have the gift of sight.

Come to think of it — this could be true not just for food, but for other things too, right? Everyday distractions dilute our experiences. We go to the beach, but we’re so occupied with clicking selfies that we’re oblivious to the smell of the sea, the wind blowing on our face, the feeling of sand beneath our feet, covering our toes. We feel it on a very superficial level.

The signs are all there. The tea tasted so much better when I first bought the clay pot, but now I don’t find it so nice anymore. I used to enjoy walking and cycling before, but now, it just seems like a way to go from place to place — a chore.

In our mad scramble to sit in our metaphorical Iron Throne, we’ve grown averse to life’s simple pleasures and become distant from nature. In this process, we’ve grown distant from ourselves.

Our smartphones have become extensions of us, our senses constantly overloaded with pointless stuff — so much that we’re distracted from the very essence of life, robbed from enjoying experiences to their fullest.

It’s okay to not make a Snapchat or Instagram update every time you have an ice cream. You know — you could just enjoy the freaking ice cream. Maybe sometimes we should just switch off our phones and laptops, and take a picnic. Maybe a walk to the nearby park, or a trek, or even a beach. And while you’re there, enjoy the moments. After all, life is in the little things.