The importance of being present.

Sometimes we go through our days being unsatisfied or indecisive for whatever reason, unable to make a choice about the smallest things put ahead of us. I had one such day today. In my case, I was diddling about town looking for a place to write that also served the precise meal I was looking for. As I wasted nearly two hours (!) trolling through the village and in the meatpacking in my quest, I finally decided to bag the entire mission. Either the place was too noisy, there were no outlets to charge my computer, or the food wasn't tickling my fancy, leaving me highly frustrated. (Laughable first world "problems", I know.) In the end I decided to swing on over to Whole Foods and just buy the ingredients for my elusive meal and prepare it at home.

Starving by this point,  I navigated the crowded aisles like a woman possessed in search of her grass-fed local organic beef. Provisions in basket, I got into the long line and was about to reply to a text when a handsome guy in front of me asked if I'd save his spot while he ran to grab something he'd forgotten. Of course, not a problem. After thanking me upon his return, he struck up a conversation and I immediately put away my phone. We were having a nice conversation as the line inched slowly along when I noticed he was wearing the male version of the exact same t shirt that I had at home that I'd five-finger-discounted from my bestie in Boston a year or so ago. What a funny coincidence! Neither of us had ever seen anyone else in that shirt and we had a good laugh about it which led to more chatter. Eventually, we were talking about modeling (he is a former one too), about what nuts we like to use in our pestos (pine nuts), about where we were from, and whatever else that naturally flowed during our crawl to the front of the line. But most importantly he confided in me that I'd made his day as he'd literally had a relationship end a few hours prior and that talking to me made him feel better. (This led to a brief talk on relationships and made us both question why so many people do not want to commit. More commiseration.)  And I disclosed that my meeting him gave my day the purpose it had lacked. I filled him in on my aimless wandering about earlier and that our connection turned my fruitless day into a meaningful one.

When our line was called and he was to head to a register, we both–nearly simultaneously–offered each other our cards and vowed to continue the conversation.

What a kawinkydink! (And yes, he let me take this photo.)

What a kawinkydink! (And yes, he let me take this photo.)

I'd had the most natural, organic, spontaneous conversation with a total stranger than I'd had in a long time (the last being 2 years ago on a train from Boston to NYC when I met another handsome interesting man from Brooklyn, who I remain friends with to this day) and it was a good reminder of how important being in the moment is and of the value of actual human conversations. Had I chosen to engage with my phone instead of with him once he'd returned to the line, I would have missed the opportunity of speaking with a really nice person. We are so "connected" and wired these days that we sometimes miss what is right in front of us. It is crucial to remember that the world does not revolve around our phones and that the connects we make in person are just as important, if not more, than the ones made virtually.

So the next time you're standing in line or on a train, resist the urge to disconnect and lose yourself in your phone and try saying hello and smiling at your neighbor. You never know, you could meet someone really fantastic.