Put the Phone Down

JUNE 01 2022

Last night after a dinner of birria tacos, Ellis and I went to his bedroom to play.

He built a meandering path of wooden Brio train tracks, zig zagging between books and stuffed animals. He happily built it himself. Bored, I checked my phone for tweets.

He said "dad, watch!" I put down my phone.

He switched on the train, and we watched it make its way around the track, its motor whirring and wheels click-clacking. I turned off the lights. The train's dim lamp lit the way as it carried its cargo of torn tissues up and down over small bridges.

He remarked "I love when it gets near that box..."

I did too, because that's when the track got close to the box and the train's light diffused against its shiny surface. It exited through the dark tunnel– a book propped up as an A-frame.

We laid together in his bed in his dark room, quietly watching as the train went round and round and round. I put my hand on his warm back and felt his gentle breath. I told him I loved him. He replied "I love you, dad."

Joy overcame me.

It was a peak experience where every aspect of my being– spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical– collided in a rapturous moment that some describe as a "flow state". A state where past and future do not exist.

Then, a stark realization hit. One day, he will no longer be interested in playing with toy trains. The world will make him cynical where simple toys will bore him, like it did to me.

I would have missed this moment had I not been fully present, scrolling and getting lost in other people's thoughts.

Put the phone down, Eric. There's a whole world in front of you.