Am I the only person who spends hours and days and weeks of her life absent?
I was in Houston recently, and I managed to squeeze an hour between appearances to visit the Rothko Chapel and De Menil Museum. For those not married to architects, Marc Rothko designed his chapel as a place of peace, a respite from the loud world, a space for silence and reflection.
I put my phone away and sat in front of each painting, trying to use the place as intended. Only I couldn’t concentrate because a woman was camped on the floor, scrolling through her phone. What was she paying attention to? She never looked away from her screen once.
Perplexed, I wandered over to the De Menil Museum and sat in the lobby. White walls were spangled with Ellsworth Kellys, and what was everyone gazing at? Their phones. We’re becoming like those dreamers in the film Inception, preferring the dream world. Absent from reality.
I didn’t bring minute-by-minute social media on residency for myriad reasons. I want to be present.
I’m fortunate to have dear friends in Milan. While they worked today, I walked the city without any real purpose. I sat in Parco Sempione and listened to conversations, watched couples make out, and savored children playing. Stumbled into a Milan Men’s Fashion Week event and an architecture week lecture. Enjoyed a latte at a favorite haunt, and noticed how many Italian men don’t wear socks. Sweated and huffed through almost 18,000 in-the-moment steps. I need to live in the present tense.