The Great Rule Breakers

Here's a common rule of engagement. 

At dinner, if one person takes out her phone, it signals to others that's an acceptable thing to do here. Then usually, there's a waterfall of hands dipping into bags or pockets and phones emerging. 

Eyes go down, fingers skate across screens, bodies close inward, maybe there's a murmur of, Look!, a phone is passed around. And the energy of the table moves from a group sharing a common moment to individuals in individual worlds. 

But some rules of engagement are meant to be broken. 

And we can break this one by choosing not to take our phones out. Which signals to others, I will be more attentive to you than I will be to anything else. 

It can feel uncomfortable. Everyone else at the table is on their phones while we sit with hands in lap, trying to figure out where to look. But if the rule were easy to break, we would have already broken it. 

When others have broken the rules with me, I notice. I notice how their body, eyes, attention stay open. How regal and powerful they look compared to the rest of us with our inward crouches. 

But more than anything else, I notice their commitment to being together. We are communal creatures; togetherness is part of our natural state. They have not forgotten that. 

So those who don't take out their phones. Those who defy the behavior of others. Those who are loyal to our humanness. These are the great rule breakers. 

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