Not living

Not living

Not living 150 150 JJ Landis

A few weeks ago, I ran outside at my teenage daughter’s urging to see a brilliant rainbow. We both snapped several photos with our phones. When I asked if she was going to post any on Instagram, she surprised me by saying no, because everyone else would be posting rainbow pictures.

She was right. We scrolled through our Instagram accounts, laughing as we counted all the rainbow posts.

It’s so easy sometimes to see someone else’s highlight reel and consider it our own. Why bother getting off my butt to look at the brilliant sky when I know I’ll see 30 versions of it online in mere minutes?

Hey, look at the amazing landscape… Wow, that’s awesome… I should do that… Oh, I’ve been there before… I remember doing that… I have seen waterfalls before… I climbed a mountain once… I like that author too… I’ve heard of that guy… Oh, she’s such a role model… Cool… Aww, cute puppies…

Scroll, like, scroll, like, share, comment, scroll = Me doing nothing. Not living.

I have to be careful to not live through other people. A picture or an update doesn’t tell a whole story.

Pictures of snow were all over social media this past weekend when we had our first significant storm of the winter here on the East Coast.

Looking at photographs was definitely NOT the same as being in the snowstorm. I stayed in my jammies until midafternoon the day it snowed. When I perused the internet from my dry, warm house, I saw a lot of white and thought, “Oh yeah, well, that’s snow. Whatever.”

It wasn’t until we had almost two feet on the ground that I went outside and felt the icy precipitation pelt my face. Then the snowfall became real.

The snow slid down my boots and soaked my socks as I labored through the waste-high drifts in front of my house. My vision became hazy when snowflakes landed on my glasses. My fingers grew numb; my snot froze.

I heard plows and a far-off siren, but not much else. The vehicles parked along the curb were nearly hidden under the snow. Walking down the center of the barren street made me feel like the last one standing in a zombie movie.

After that venture outside, I was able to bring along a depth of understanding to the experiences others were having. I had seen, felt, heard, and breathed the storm. Lived it.

Even though everyone had a different view of what was going on, I was able to connect and understand. I saw the same event through many eyes.

We all experience life in different ways, but we have to have to get off the couch and walk in the storm sometimes in order to empathize and unite with other people. That’s living.

JJ Landis

JJ Landis is the author of "Some Things You Keep." She is a librarian in Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband and three children. She blogs about parenting, marriage, and getting through the day at

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