The Importance of No Distractions

2013 2 May - Banaue, Philippines

Technology often blinds us to the world around us. Why talk to the person next to you on the bus when you can just listen to the same Linkin Park song over and over again? Why spend the precious moments with your coffee in the morning reflecting or reading a book when instead you can hunch over your computer, browsing the same trivial information on facebook?

I've found myself near shut off from the internet while spending a week on an island and completely shut off staying in a rural village for another week. Combined with getting my headphones stolen, I've been walking around without internet and music, and couldn't be happier.

I stayed in a small village a 15 minute hike from a port town that is popular for scuba diving. When I first arrived, I would walk back to my place with my music blasting away and ignoring all the children playing since they are currently on break from school. After my headphones were stolen, I started paying attention to them, talking to them, and sometimes playing ball with them. Once they saw I was approachable, they would always jump around me yelling, picture! picture! They really loved getting their picture taken, and would run to me afterwards to see and laugh at themselves.

After leaving the island, I took a 9 hour night bus from Manila to an area with lots of rice terraces. Normally, I'd play the same few songs over and over again, staring into the pitch black night waiting for the lack of comfort from being sleepy without being able to sleep to end. This time I didn't have that option, so I decided to pass the time talking to everyone around me. A couple from Japan, a group from Lithuania, just random conversations to pass the time. My last conversation before I managed to dose off was with a Filipino mother, going to another village past the bus's final destination, the same place I was going to. She was born and raised there, working in Hong Kong and only coming back for a few days every year.

She was meeting her sister and daughter where the bus dropped us off, and I joined them on the hour tricycle ride towards the end of the road, then the 40 minute hike down the mountain. Along the way, she told me that the village just ended planting new seeds in the rice terraces and that there was a festival to celebrate. She took me to the hut that was hosting the festival and there was a pig charring over a fire, huge bowls of rice cooking and plenty of rice wine.

The hut on the far top right was where the celebration was at

She told one of her friends to dress me up in the traditional clothing so I could dance with some of the kids who were doing a few local dances. Luckily, the dance only had 3 different types of movements or it would have been a disaster for me.

Those are just two of the many examples I have that show what experiences you can have if you simply take your phone away from your face and look around you. Everyone has a story, and some might even include you in parts of it if you simply show up mentally.

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