Looking through old photographs of my mom and grandparents living in New York City in the 1950’s and beyond, I always become mesmerized by them. I like to imagine a time when life was so much more raw, simple and in-the-moment. Their neighborhood was clean, brick walls, with maybe a tasteful hand-painted advertisement on the side of one building per block–you wouldn’t even recognize that it was a city according to today’s standards.
I try to imagine being in those photographs; things were very hard then in a lot of ways, but they weren’t as complicated. People were so much more engaged, with family and friends integrated into their lives, they didn’t have therapists to talk to, they were surrounded by a support system–the way things really should be. Now, as I live in a building where I don’t even know any of my neighbors, it’s such a strange new dynamic.
The older generation left the house knowing where to go and when to meet someone, there was a commitment to be upfront. Today you leave the house with your head half screwed on and realizing that it’s ok, you can figure out where you’re going on your phone and text the person with up-to-the-minute details of how late you’re going to be.
Our lives now are all distraction from the life in front of us, we’re rarely in the moment; it’s actually difficult to be in the moment. Even if you were to take a day off of technology, the distraction finds a way. Notice the advertisements in front of you–visual pollution–everything is competing for your attention. I’ve noticed there are advertisements even on the bars of subway turnstiles.
Now a simple walk in the street is even a distraction, we’re updating our Facebooks and Twitters with our findings, if we have people over the house, we’re sure to broadcast it onto the internet instead of just enjoying our company.
It’s so easy to become distracted, our whole lives can easily be given up to distraction if we let them. The challenge is to catch yourself in the act and keep life in moderation.