I was talking just a few minutes ago with my better half, wondering just how I used to spend my idle hours before the Internet came into vogue. As is, I’m cuffed to a binary lodestone, whether smart phone, iPad, or desktop, dulling awareness, squandering time, exponentially addictive.
Generally, my dawns begin not with photographing sunrises or heading to the gym, but grabbing my tablet, which accompanies me even to bed, for a wakeup breakfast of The Guardian, BBC, CNN, and NPR.
Unsatiated, I imbibe local news back home where I lived for 41 years before moving this past summer, all of this consuming at least an hour. I check for updates several times throughout the day.
I comb Facebook for friend posts, get off text messages as day tumbles into noon.
One of the inveterate things I do is to google this and google that. If curiosity killed the cat, it’s stuffed my brain into info overload.
According to a recent report in Ofcom featured in The Guardian, I’m not alone by any means. 78% of us now have smartphones, rising to 95% of young people, 16-24. Returning from work, we grab a fast meal, throw ourselves into a comfy chair, turning on, say, Netflix, for a few hours more of wasteful indulgence.
Bored and stressed, we moderns seek distraction. We have difficulty keeping company with ourselves.
Addicted, each day becomes a round of what Buddhists term Samsara, or the unenlightened repetition of daily round, captured famously in Bill Murray’s stellar performance in Groundhog Day.
And we pay a steep price for all of this in a lifespan never really long enough, missing out on the miracle of life that´s not only ourselves, and won’t happen again, but of those around us enveloped in a cosmos, earthly and heavenly, infinite, yet temporal.
It was Wordsworth, nature poet of a quieter time, who told us “the child is father of the man” in the ¨Rainbow.” What he probably meant is that what we are as children we become as adults in the maturation of habits and sensibilities acquired when children, particularly an early fondness for nature.
I’d extend its meaning to include a child’s sometimes extraordinary ability to show us the way as adults in their frequent exemplar of sensory delight in the nowness of things, each day a renewed cornucopia, at least before the advent of video games.
Maybe you’re getting my drift—that one way out of our electronic matrix is to rethink what we loved to do as children and rediscover it again. I loved studying languages, playing and watching baseball, walking to the library and the adventure of new book, traveling to new places, meeting new people, learning new things, the smell of country air, the touch of bare feet on cool earth in early morning in our garden.
Children teach us not to fret about tomorrow.
To stop if it isn’t fun.
To be curious.
To savor the moment.
I hold to action over prayer, but were I a praying guy, I’d surely pray, “Lord, give me the mind of a child again!”