As one would imagine, my Hands Free mentality causes me to be overly aware of the usage of hand held communication devices.
What interests me most are not the times I see people using their phones, it’s the times I see people NOT using their phones.
Because when I am in a public setting and the vast majority of people are refraining from phone usage, I take notice. I examine that setting thoroughly because I think The Answer lies in there somewhere.
That is exactly what happened a few weeks ago when I took my daughters to a water park while we were visiting out-of-state friends and family.
I now have a new appreciation for the word “lazy,” and realize “lazy” needs to be a part of my life more often!
This is my story…
While our trip back home included an extensive amount of quality time with family or friends, there was one day my daughters and I were totally on our own. I knew there was a fabulous water park in the area and considered taking them there.
Before I became Hands Free, the thought of the water park with two little girls by myself would have been too risky, too scary.
How would I be in two places at once? What if one girl wanted to go water slides and the other wanted to visit the kiddy splash area? Would I be able to keep an eye on my oldest if she wanted to swim in the deep end while my youngest wanted to stay in the shallow end? (You get the idea. And I won’t embarrass myself by listing every Water Park Worry that crossed my mind.)
But my Hands Free inner voice assured Type A Control Freak Rachel that not everything has to be planned out, not every adventure has to be illustrated in a ten-step diagram before arrival; I can simply let things happen. It Will Be OK. Really.
In fact, there is only one question my Hands Free inner voice asks to determine if an activity is worthwhile, which is: “Is this a chance to make a memory?”
If the answer is YES, then I convince myself to let go of worry, logistics, and all the “what ifs” and simply say YES to making a memory.
Well, needless to say, the day turned out beautifully. We took turns going to the places Big Sister wanted to go and the places Little Sister wanted to go.
We tried out all the different areas of the park, but we kept ending up in the same place, a place they both loved.
Time and time again, we found ourselves at The Lazy River.
(Who wouldn’t love something with a name like that?)
I was not expecting this. I thought such an attraction would be too boring for my swim team loving seven-year-old. I thought it would be too intimidating for my just-learned-how-to-swim four-year-old. I thought one time around the tranquil river and the girls would be pulling my arm to the next adventure.
But as I have learned on this Hands Free journey, the best things come unexpectedly; the most meaningful things happen when you just allow to them unfold naturally.
At approximately the eighth time around The Lazy River circle, my daughters had it all figured out. They knew things worked best if Little Sister went in front, followed by Big Sister, and Mama took up the rear. We held hands so that our rafts did not separate.
The smile on the face of my four-year-old was pure astonishment, total bliss. She spoke phrases I have never heard her say like, “This is fantastic,” and “I am just chilling out.”
My oldest daughter made up a game where we would fill out “cups” (hands) as we drifted beneath the flowing waterfall. (Oh yes, I got my hair wet. How could you even doubt me after my Mother’s Day post?)
We had lively conversation about the pace of the current, the breeze in the air, the perfectness of the day.
There were no fights, no sisterly squabbles. All was peaceful as we tilted back our heads back and basked in the sun along The Lazy River.
And then about round #54, my Hands Free radar went off. I was so intent on the beautiful things happening in my own trio of rafts I did not notice what was happening around me.
Then it hit me.
The Lazy River was one of those special, rare places…very few locations such as this exist in the world today.
The Lazy River had no phones.
Not one person held a communication device in his or her hand.
There was no texting, talking, ringing, buzzing, beeping, vibrating in The Lazy River.
And what I saw was a sight for tired, over-stimulated eyes:
I saw hand holding…teenage boys grasping tightly to stay together, families holding hands to keep their floats from drifting apart .
I saw human contact…babies lovingly held against their mothers’ chests, young children snuggled in their Daddy’s laps.
I saw conversation…two brothers talking sports, a mom and her children already discussing their return trip to the water park.
I saw relaxation…a weary dad drinking in the sunshine, normally hyperactive kids hypnotically silenced by the lull of the water.
I saw kindness…sweet grandmothers making small talk with my daughters, helpful rafters giving a push when needed.
I saw laughter.
I saw happiness.
I saw calmness.
I saw wholeness.
I saw unity.
I saw love.
And no one was in a hurry to get off The Lazy River. It was as if we had nowhere in the world to be. It was as if no one wanted to be anywhere else. It was as if time stood still.
Even today, I still find myself intrigued by this rare and lovely experience. I continue to dissect and process it.
I find myself asking: Why was The Lazy River a site of loving connection on the deepest human level?
Perhaps it was the blueness of the water.
Perhaps it was the abundant sunshine after a long rainy May.
Perhaps it was just a nice family crowd on that particular day.
But there was more to it than that.
I know it and you know it.
The reason The Lazy River was the site of ultimate human connection was not because of what was present, it was because of what was NOT present.
Phones were not there to steal the focus.
Phones were not there to hold the attention.
Phones were not there to interrupt the conversation.
Phones were not there to destroy the connection.
Phones were simply Not There.
And because the hands in The Lazy River were not holding tightly to distraction, they had a chance to grasp what truly mattered.
I think we all can agree that most families do not get enough “down time,” where we are not on a schedule, not in a rush, and not tied to our phone or computer. I think we can also agree that we need to create more “lazy river” experiences.
While we may not all have the opportunity to visit a lazy river, we can take the components of it and re-create a setting that produces the same results. Simply go on a family outing (visit a park, go on a hike, a picnic, a bike ride, or the neighborhood pool) and turn off the phone, place it out of sight and out of arm’s reach. Take off your watch, and lose track of time. Simply go where your heart leads you.
The Hands Free Revolution is putting “Lazy” back into summer. Reach out your hand and grasp what really matters!
Are you with me?