Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thoughts On Life For The Day

I'm a mere two days away from taking an adult education class on getting into the world of publishing. I'm excited for it, as this is the first time in a long time that I am attending something more in the formal education realm to actually learn something. Even though it is just one night for two hours, its almost like when I was young, and waiting for the first day of school to arrive.

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When I was young, adventure came daily and cost me nothing but my time, and the allowance of my imagination to flow freely. As an adult, it seems like adventure is tied to money, whether it is to pay for gas to get there, a place to stay, or a fee to participate. Real life seems to get in the way and only allows so much time off to take advantage of, which is never enough time to do what you want to do. But maybe I'm missing a major point. Maybe, just maybe, certain aspects of real life are the adventure that we miss because we focus too much on the mundane activities, rather than enjoying the interactions with those people in our lives and those that occupy the spaces around us. Sort of 'failing to see the forest for all the trees in the way' kind of thing.

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Growing up, I used to build forts in the ravine behind my old place. By even the worst of construction standards, it was crappily constructed. I'm sure the little pig-built house made out of straw was far more stable and pleasant to look upon. But it was my fortress or cabin in the wild frontier that I had conquered. The nearby creek was my fishing hole and a place to soak my feet, and the source of my fire fighting abilities. My firepit was built to occupy my need for playing with fire, to absorb the warmth it put off, and to ward off the evil things that lurked around after dark. If you wandered by, you probably saw nothing more than a mess. But if you asked me then, I could share my world and the imagination that built it with you.

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When I was young, we used to dream of the day when our phone wasn't connected to the wall or a base by a short cord. We would be able to walk around whereever we went and hold our conversations with friends, be it in another room, to pay attention to our food cooking on the stove, be able to wash the dishes, or out walking the dog and not have to do that whole "I'll call ya back in a minute/hour" thing. Now that we have all that, I almost wish it back to the way it was. I find myself in the company of people with cell phones. We may be talking about important things, or just talking about the weather. Then their phone notifies them of a text, an email or an incoming call. Without hesitation or thought, their attention goes directly to the phone. It must be checked out and attended to. While they may get back to me afterwards, it always made me feel like I was merely filler material between the important things to them. The text must be acknowledged immediately, and possibly responded to even, before their attention would turn back to me. Or if it were a phone call, suddenly the personon the other end became more important, even if it was a conversation about nothing. It always made me feel like I wasn't good enough to be a priority in anyone's life, even if we were the only two people physically present. Rather than being a tool, the cell phone became an addiction, a dependency- for how many people's lives are ruined for the moment when they forget or lose use of their cell phone? Whatever happened to unplugging for a moment and ignoring the damn thing, especially in the presence of actual people right in front of you?

I once mentioned this to someone, and right afterwards their phone rang. They looked for a moment at the phone laying on the table, and then back up to me. I could see it in their eyes that they really wanted to answer the phone, HAD to answer it. I told them to just answer it, as they're not answering it was merely trying to prove a point, since they had already done this a few times prior in the same conversation to me before I talked about it. And so they did. I took the moment to get more coffee and get rid of the previously drank coffee in my system. Hell, I've had my wife do this multiple times here at home, as well as when she and I are out and about somewhere together. It's not an indictment of her, or the other people for that matter, but rather of the societal/cultural addiction to the damn devices. However, I feel, and I'm sure others have felt this about me at the same time, that if and when I might demand they ignore it and pay attention to me, that I'm merely being selfish and quite frankly annoying the hell out of them. And of course that means they'll avoid the annoyance and focus on someone or something else instead. It seems like I'm in some kind of catch-22 situation, that I either put up with it and feel like a 2nd class citizen or say something and alienate myself altogether, but maybe I'm just overthinking things.

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I have always loved to go out and observe nature. To enjoy the pure beauty of a river or lake, the mountains, a large forest or small wooded ravine, the animals in the air, on the ground and in the water. But now, I like to watch certain people around me as well. Not just any people. I find beauty in seeing my kids asleep, or watching them play with each other and/or their friends and hear them laugh their little kid laughs as they enjoy themselves. I love to peek in on my wife when she is taking a nap on a saturday afternoon, or when she is going through her closet looking for something to wear, or just looking the stuff over to see what she's keeping or giving away to Goodwill. I like watching her cooking or cleaning...not because those things may benefit me, but to see her move about with purpose and grace. I find these things beautiful.

Photos and video of these things just do not have the capability to truly capture these small moments in life. They are something that are truly more enjoyable and fully appreciated when you see them in person. And I think that we, well me specifically, take them for granted and don't appreciate them as fully and as often as we should. I think if we did, life would be a lot more enjoyable than we make it out to be, especially if we remember those moments when we're doing the stuff we don't care to do, like cleaning up the litter box or paying bills.

1 comment:

scotterb said...

The world of publishing, eh? Sounds exciting, good luck with that!

My cell phone hardly ever rings, and if it does, it's almost always my wife (only the school and day care have the number besides her). Yet as I watch students text and chat I figure it's a generational thing -- and like everything it can be abused or be good. Maybe you should publish a book of cell phone etiquette? By the way, a candidate for Governor in Florida got in trouble for reading a text message in the middle of a debate, I hear (though I think a staff member came up and showed it to her -- perhaps a young staffer who thinks you always have to read texts right away!)