The Present Present

A Gift of Now

I had a revelation recently. It was regarding something that had been told to me many times before but I wasn’t ready or open to hearing it. I was talking to a friend who asked me a simple question: “Did you see the sunset? “ she asked. To which I replied, “No. Is it on Netflix?” Her stone faced glare told me I was missing something. I was missing life… my life. That’s when it hit me. That’s when I realized I was oblivious to the beauty of the present moment because my face was constantly fixed onto a computer, phone or television screen. While I’ve never been the most avid outdoorsy girl, I do enjoy nature…from afar. I hear great things about it. But what I was missing the most were connections with people in real time. I thought about how many mornings my dog has stared at me, waiting to let her outside, nearly crossing her legs because, “Mama ‘s got to see what she missed on Instagram last night.” Turns out I never missed anything. I really could go an eternity without seeing another selfie, a quote taken out of context, or a picture of somebody’s meal.


I wondered how many other people have almost ‘peed their pants’ waiting for me to lift my gaze from the fancy little anti-social pocket device known as my cell phone. I also thought about how I missed my niece walk for the first time because there was a glitch in my Candy Crush. And I shamefully recall how I mentally zoned out during a job interview while worrying about Jessica Lange’s future on “American Horror Story.”

I know I’m not alone here. Want to know how I know? I know because every time I gather with friends I watch as they all lay their phones directly in front of themselves and proceed to check them every 45 seconds. We are all there but not all together. A group of us decided to play that phone stack game at dinner once. It’s when you all stack your phones face down on top of each other and the first person to grab theirs has to pay for everyone’s meal. It went really well until the smokers went outside to smoke and a few others went to the restroom. That’s when I snatched my phone and quickly checked all of my social media apps, texts, emails and snapchats. I also ate food from everyone’s plate and took somebody’s scarf.

My point: Don’t play games with a girl who loves a good loophole. That and phone/social media/ technology obsession has become a serious habit and a very hard one to quit.

I see people on their phones at concerts, social gatherings, weddings, holidays, and even on dates. It seems to me everyone, myself included, is so engrossed in capturing images and data for the purpose of documenting and sharing with others that we’ve excluded ourselves from truly absorbing the moment.


It’s become trendy to tweet and post comments in online forums and Facebook groups during live award shows. Perhaps it’s for a sense of camaraderie but how weird is it when you’re out and run into someone with whom you’ve only communicated with via social media and neither of you know what to do or say so you avoid contact and pretend you don’t see one another. Then later while returning to your respective homes you both log onto Facebook and write to each other like, “Hey girl! What did you do tonight?” Being antisocial is exhausting.

Being present extends beyond technology. It’s something that has made dating a difficult endeavor as well. Far too many people are waiting on or longing for something or someone thus becoming stuck in the past. If you’ve ever wondered what it may be like to go on a first date with someone while their ex is hiding in a bush, save your time. I can tell you it’s really awkward. It’s also unpleasant falling for someone who hasn’t let go of somebody from their past. Unless you want to hear all about that other person and how everything, including almond milk sparks a memory, run, don’t walk away.

Irrelevant side note: The worst, however, is when you try to break up with a girl who didn’t even know you were in a relationship. O…M…G… it’s so embarrassing and such a waste of time. Speaking from personal experience, aside from bad grammar and bad hair the other thing that becomes intolerable as you age is wasting time.

It’s like if we keep our phone or our ex within an arm’s reach that we’re never alone. Maybe that’s what unites us essentially; the fear of being alone; the fear of being vulnerable and open; the fear of being rejected. Or maybe “Orange is the New Black” IS more important than air and worth watching on your phone app at a party while everyone else is dancing.

I’ve found myself at a place in life where everything feels rushed and there never seems to be enough time. Lately I’m attending fewer sunsets and more funerals. I’m learning that it’s okay to be still, as long as you’re facing forward. After this revelation I’ve decided to be the girl at the party too consumed in laughter and conversation (and free food) to even notice my phone. I choose to be present and active in the lives of my family and friends. I choose to breathe deeply when I’m overwhelmed and to smile even when I don’t want to. I choose to live in the moment. And now that it’s in writing I have to commit to it. I challenge each of you to do the same. If you’ve found yourself feeling the same way allow me to regift to you the best present given to me; the gift of now. Be sure to handle it with care. I promise you’ll never receive another one quite like it.

Chrissy Costa is a local comedian known for her dry wit, satirical style of comedy, and big earrings. Before doing stand-up she studied sketch comedy at Chicago’s famed Second City. You can follow her on Instragram and Facebook. (She / Her / Hers)