A Wake-Up Call In The Glow of a Screen

George Kalantzis
2 min readNov 10, 2023

Just the other night, as I was lost in the endless scroll of my phone, something small but significant happened. My daughter, Barbie in hand, looked up at me with those big, innocent eyes. “Daddy, will you play with me?”

There I was, caught in the digital black hole, and there she was, wanting a bit of time with her dad. That’s when I felt a rush of tears flood down my cheeks.

I’ve been a Marine for ten years, went through some tough times, and now, as a single dad, I thought I’d seen it all. But this? This was a new kind of challenge.

It didn’t matter how tired I was after a long day. All that mattered was being there for my daughter, truly present in a world constantly pulling us away from distractions.

I realized how these little escapes — the mindless scrolling and late-night TV binges — were my way of seeking comfort. Harmless, sure. But these things were stealing moments from me. Moments that matter.

We all check out from time to time. We tell ourselves that we’ll be happy when we get that next thing, reach that next goal. We think these little things don’t matter. But that’s all bullshit.

We’re so busy looking ahead that we miss the life happening right before us. That’s what I’ve been doing — missing out on life and seeing the true point, like playing with my daughter because I won’t have many days left like this.

That’s why I decided to sign up for a bodybuilding competition at nearly 40. It’s not about getting ripped or winning trophies this time. It’s about pushing myself, befriending the unknown, and being more present.

While only a few weeks in, it’s showing me that chasing “something more” doesn’t always lead where we think it will.

Real happiness is not found at the finish line. It’s in the everyday moments — like hearing my daughter laugh, feeling the burn in my muscles, or overcoming a tough day without resorting to alcohol or any other mind-numbing activity that makes it all worth it.

They say change happens when staying the same hurts more than changing. I get that now. Happiness isn’t something you find in comfort.

It comes to you when you’re out there, living with everything you’ve got.

Life’s too short to spend it on autopilot. Happiness isn’t waiting on the other side of your next achievement. It’s waiting for us to put down the phone and look up.

GK

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George Kalantzis

George is a professional storyteller, a dad to a sassy and adventurous eight year-old girl, and the author Of Nowhere To Go