UNITED STATES—Sometimes I feel much older than I think I am some days. It seems the younger generations are so obsessed with technology, their phones and all things social media it is impossible to have a conversation with them. So understand my surprise this past week while attending a funeral that so many of my first cousins and to an even bigger surprise my second cousins actually engaged in conversations where we weren’t looking at our phones 24/7 to discuss things with little to no relevance.

We actually talked and had real connections and emotions erupted as we chronicled things from our past, paying tribute to our grandparents and sharing plenty of things that rarely transpire at times people. I mean to have 20 plus cousins is a lot for most people, but the one thing I can say about our family is we interacted quite a bit thanks to our yearly family reunions. Not only did we bond over food, we bonded over photos, stories and just laughter.

That might be the biggest thing that surprised me the most: we showed a ton of love this weekend and I loved it. We didn’t have to play games, we didn’t have to use videos to build a bridge or connection; we shared stories about our past, our childhood, and really placed an emphasis on all the good things in our lives and not the bad. I am a firm believer that the more you focus on the negative the more it festers and causes utter chaos in your life. Your intent might not be for that negative energy to cause problems, but just the mere thought of it, is enough to cause a disruption. My grandparents live in a rural region, and for myself, my siblings and most members in my family that is something we struggle with often. That peace and serenity element, most of us aren’t familiar with so to be able to sit on the back porch and leave the door open and not worry about being robbed or shot at is difficult to fathom at times.

However, its things like that that fosters conversations where we shared our hopes for the future and for our children’s future. Like I thought I was the only person who thought the idea of going back to school after being out of the classroom for nearly 10 years was ludicrous, but I’m not. I have more cousins actually doing it or considering doing it than I ever imagined. So bonds are being built about the idea of being an older adult in a classroom with 20s. However, I can still toot my horn on the fact that no one truly knew my actual age and the fact that many of my professors assumed that I was in my early 20s was a sign that while I’m aging, I still have the potential to pass as a youngster, which makes me feel good at heart America.

I mean now that I think about it, none of my first cousins entertained the thought of using our cellphones most of the day on Saturday. I really don’t even recall checking my phone that often if at all. And it felt so good, I mean the stress or just the idea of getting a stressful text message or phone call would have totally ruined the day, but it didn’t happen. It just proves, we have to give technology a REST!

There is so much more to life than cellphones, computers, iPads and so much more. We lived countless decades and centuries without such devices, so who is to say that we actually need them now? That’s the secret America: we don’t! We use those devices as a distraction because to be honest many of us don’t want to have conversations with people, but it’s through conversation that we learn things about ourselves, about others and we build bonds.