I was blessed to grow up in an amazing neighborhood. My childhood friends and I spent endless hours exploring in the woods behind our homes and elementary school; ice skating on the pond that some of the neighborhood Dads built; playing tag football and stickball in the street; playing hopscotch on boards made not with chalk but with a particular type of rock; and games that I don’t remember the names of. The time was idyllic. We were out from early morning after chores were completed, had lunch at 12, dinner at 5 when the town whistle blew, and home when the street lights came on.
One of my favorite memories are of me and my girlfriends just laying in the field behind one of our houses. At night, we would play manhunt with the boys. The guys always said they’d beat us. Well, the guys aren’t going to like this but us girls were a little sneaky and would cheat every now and then. Honestly, most of the time. It took a while for the guys to catch on. They couldn’t figure out why it took so long to find us. As they were running around frantically trying to find us so they could win, we were laying in the field stargazing and talking about life.
During the day, if it wasn’t too humid and the mosquitos didn’t want to eat us for lunch, we would lay in the same field watching the clouds pass by. Again, we would talk about life which was so much simpler then. We would search the clouds for images that would take shape. The clouds would move slowly, sometimes quickly, changing thickness, shape and/or just dissipating before our eyes. We felt peaceful and had no worries. It wasn’t that our world wasn’t in turmoil. The news wasn’t easily accessible to us. This allowed us to enjoy our childhood. We could spend our days being kids.
Yesterday, I needed to catch up on yardwork which took countless hours. I was exhausted. Usually, I would just plop myself down in a chair but for some reason I decided to lay flat on the deck. I stayed there for about 15 minutes. At first I thought, “will I ever be able to get up?” I just laughed to myself and decided to relax and enjoy. I watched the clouds against the beautiful cerulean blue sky. I haven’t felt that peace in such a long time. It made me extremely happy.
I must admit that it made me a wee bit sad as well. I was lucky that my children were born as technology exploded. We were still able to control the amount of time and contact that they had with it. We spent endless hours outside, in the park, at the zoo or on playdates. TV time was limited and electronic use was at a minimum. Now, with iPads and iPhones, five-year olds are more technologically savvy than I am which is extremely impressive. Yet, I fear they are missing out on the beauty around them.
Steven Spielberg explains it best:
Technology can be our best friend,
and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives.
It interrupts our own story,
interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream,
to imagine something wonderful,
because we’re too busy
bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office
on the cell phone.
In our home, there is a no phones at the table policy even though our kids are almost all in their 20s. Mealtime is the only time that all of us are able to engage without interruption or distraction. It doesn’t happen every day but it allows us to remember and appreciate the small things in life. The small things that are huge. Family and friends, communication, love and life. I wish for all of you and your families a life filled with many memories and true blessings that only life can bring not technology.