I took the photo above as I walked up from my house to the building at Hotchkiss that houses most classrooms, the dining hall, the library, the auditorium, etc. (We call it the Main Building, but I'm guessing that if you donate a lot of money, you could get it named after you...or after me.) Sometimes, when I make the uphill walk, I look at my phone, but usually, I look up and look around. On the day I took this photo, if I had focused only on my phone, I would have missed this amazing sunset.
When I was in college, the places that I met people were in my dorms (Hi, James and Newport!), through my team (Hi, AC Swim & Dive!), and in my classes. I got to know people in my classes in the interstices, those short discussions on the way into and the way out of the room. One person might ask a question on the way in, and the other could answer during the egress. The answer might lead to more questions or a walk together to Valentine (the dining hall) and a shared meal. And we all know where shared meals lead. Friendship.
I have a daughter who's in college right now. (Hi, EKO!) When people walk into the classes she's taking, they look at their phones. When the class ends, people immediately check their phones. Standing in line at Commons (her dining hall -- maybe also a naming opportunity there?), people gaze at their phones.
At Hotchkiss, many people use the passing time to check their messages. They use the minutes seated at the table before class officially starts to play one more game (Do you know how many versions of Wordle already exist?! I'm talking to you, AY!) or send one more SnapChat. They bend their necks at right angles from their torsos while waiting in line at the Dining Hall (Want it to have your name?) so that they can see how many likes they've picked up in the last hour.
How are kids supposed to find each other? How can spontaneous friendships form if we don't notice who's staying next to us and say hello?
The title of this post comes from a speech a friend/teammate/colleague (Hi, LR!) gave to the school a few years ago. (I mentioned her talk in my post on September 22, 2021. You can read it here.) I always love the way that friend focuses on the positive and decided to use this post to point out what gets lost when we don't heed her smart advice. Maybe, today or for this whole week, you can see what happens when you make more of an effort to keep your head and eyes raised. In the comments, I ask you to note something you would have missed (this week or at any time in your life) had you not looked up and looked around.
After I wrote the above post, I saw the photo below on Instagram. I guess it poses the opposite point of view...and there are always multiple ways to see the world.