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Column: The art of admiring the life in front of you

Photo via Matt Lucas

If I was an athlete in today’s sports world, there is no doubt in my mind that my preferred Name, Image and Likeness deal would be with the best candy there is: the York Peppermint Patty.

The close-up shots of an actor taking a bite of the dark chocolate disc and their eyes instantly popping wide open as the taste of mint strikes them are etched forever in my memory. My dad and I would share one of these decadent treats after making the weekend grocery run, and it was a highlight of every week.

Now, at a sharp 21 years of age, I continue to look back on that combination of chocolate and mint that my father and I shared, but more important than that, as cliché as it sounds, was the grocery run itself.

In a world of cameras and social media telling the story of our lives, it can be hard to be present in the moment but also get that shot for “the ‘Gram.” For someone like me, especially with my role as a communications student and sports reporter, the challenge is having a social media presence while also not living on “the bird app.”

To harp on that point further, just look around you. There’s tables, crosswalks and classrooms full of people, and while conversations continue, they often interrupt glances at the technology that consumes us. Even when I first wake up — after silencing that irksome alarm — I go straight to finding out what I missed as I slept.

I’m not saying to throw all your devices out, or to never take a picture, record a concert or document something for later. What I would like to push, though, is the idea of living with the people around you, and not the things you have to charge at night.

My freshman year, I was sitting in a filled-to-the-brim Peoria Civic Center as the Braves men’s basketball team scored 20 straight points and held the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers scoreless for eight minutes. The band started blaring as the sea of fans dressed in red all rose. It was an electric atmosphere for sure, and one with one thing on everyone’s mind: the team in front of them.

The chills I felt at Carver Arena that day will always outweigh any picture or video I could have possibly had of the moment. Documenting is great and worthwhile to look back on, but I’d sure love to bring back the art of “you should’ve been there” stories that don’t need a video or image to be shown to describe the experience.

If you can’t be in the moment and feel the world in front of you with your five senses, then you must either be staggering into Bacci Pizzeria at some point after midnight, or be paying too much attention to those pieces of technology we have deemed essential to our daily lives.

Rightfully so, I know not to cast stones when in a glass house. I’m probably just as guilty of paying more attention to the White Sox’s collapse as a franchise or a 12-seed upsetting a 5-seed in March Madness than to the group of friends that I’m with that night. It’s a habit that keeps me from hearing, seeing and taking part in moments I’m sure I’ll regret missing in the years to come.

We like to save moments for later, take pictures and show people what we saw or did. Every once in a while, I suggest you take that walk to class, look outside the car window and laugh with your friends. Admire the world and the people around you. There is a beautiful life that you’re lucky to be a part of, and even if it doesn’t include York Peppermint Patties, I’m sure you’ll find that enjoyment elsewhere.

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