Approximately two weeks ago, I was stepping out of an airplane onto American soil, after being out of the country for a little over a week. As per usual, I did not have the greatest international cell phone service, and therefore, I was basically disconnected from the fast-paced world we like to call home.
The world I had been engulfed in—Belize—moved much slower than the one we experience during our day-to-day struggles. So as I stepped out of the airport terminal, I thought I would feel relief to finally be in a world of convenience around every corner. America did not welcome me with open arms as I had expected it to. Instead, I got slapped in the face, multiple times, by this little thing called life.
Scratch that—specifically life in America.
A world that moves so quickly before us that we are constantly afraid to miss a single moment, while simultaneously (and counterintuitively) spending all of our waking hours preparing for the future. A world that does not stop moving when you leave it behind, and feels like you have been gone for decades when you return, though it might have been just a couple of weeks.
My mother called me between my connecting flights to catch up, and although I had so much to tell her about my missionary trip and all the fun I had had in between, I was instead met with some “adult world” news. I had to move out of my house. The landowner did not want to re-new the lease and had other tenants waiting for my roommates and me to move out. I had about two weeks to get all of my belongings out of the house, find a new place to live, and find a job to support myself for the summer. How could sh*t hit the fan so quickly? I had only been gone for 10 days.
I couldn’t breathe. To be honest, I still can’t. My two weeks are up, and I have only accomplished one task on my list of three. There are so many reasons I was unable to become successful in my endeavors, but the main culprit seems to be time.
I know that it is unrealistic for me to do all of those things which I had set out to accomplish in such a short period of time, yet somehow I feel like I am robbed of my time here in America, while I felt like I had so much of it in Belize. I came from a world where I, along with a wonderful team of colleagues, was able to accomplish the enormous feat of giving about 3,000 Belizean children fluoride treatments in only four days. This would not be possible without the year of preparation which allowed us to take on the mission in the first place. Why am I feeling cheated then?
It all goes back to cell phone service. I didn’t have any in Belize. In fact, I broke my phone the third night being there. I had serious anxiety all day, but then I stopped and started putting my daily efforts into something a lot more meaningful than the little gadget that is usually permanently glued to my hand. I started really hearing the laughter of the children playing during recess, instead of trying to capture all of the moments on camera. I started making my life have meaning.
The American lifestyle does not always allow for us to realize our purpose. In fact, it hinders our peace, raises our levels of anxiety, and makes us believe that the fast-paced, technologically advanced, Western World of convenience is the right option for our lives. It might be, yet we should all step away from this world. Turn off your phone for a day. Have a look around. What can you accomplish? Hopefully more than me.