This subject is so real for me. I hope you can feel it on the other side of this screen of mine.
I grew up in your average United State’s household in the suburbs. I was in middle school when technology started to boom – meaning I got to play some badass video games! I was also very into sports, watching ESPN a few hours daily. Needless to say – I spent a lot of time in front of the TV. When smartphones came around, I spent a lot of time in front of them as well.
While these things brought me great joy, they soon became a mindless habit for me. They were habits I would turn to just because that’s what I’ve always done, or because they would fill the space. And the space must be filled, right?
Years and years of mindless habit turned me into somewhat of a robot. From where I am now, I look back and believe that I was dull, brainwashed, zombie-like. Not human. I don’t say this lightly. I lost my wonder of the world.
I lived in this reality of going to work or school and wishing I was at home. Then when I got home I would plop in front of the TV and wish I was somewhere else, I don’t know, like Hawaii. You see, I was never really there. Wishing, wishing, wishing.
I understand if you read this and think something along the lines of, “yeah, duh, it’s called growing up.” Trust me, that guy I described up there, he would’ve said the same thing.
But you know what… It’s false. And it’s the biggest lie told in our culture. Growing up does not mean giving in to culture, giving up lifestyle ambitions because of a job, thinking playing around is for kids, not chasing your own hobbies because you have better shit to do. There is no line between that which is for grown ups and that which is for kids. Distinguishing between the two is silly.
Distinguishing between the two means that adults have stopped dancing, singing, playing, and interacting with new and different people. All behaviors that spark presence and awareness. Stopped because of the idea that they are child-like behaviors.
There’s a saying of origins that are unknown to me, but I can feel the truth in it. “In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: “When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?”
It is a reality that our culture faces legitimate mental health issues. Depression, anxiety, chronic stress. I could throw statistics at you but we all know this. If we haven’t faced it ourselves we definitely have someone close to us who has experienced it.
Before my eyes, this piece seems this has become a sob story. It’s not meant to be. I promise.
I have awakened from my slumber. A slumber that I didn’t know I was engaged in. There are many stories, many things that lead to my awakening from this deep sleep, but those are stories for other rainy evenings.
What has stuck with me, and what proves most important so far: presence and play. Being present with others is freedom. Being mindful of the moment can bring realization and gratitude to your greatest gifts. Exhaling the seriousness and welcoming the mystery of life allows us to see through the eyes of our younger self; remember that one who was so curious and playful?
I have come to understand that being present with others is among the most meaningful, real experiences we have. From playing outside, to cooking food together. Going on a chit-chat walk, to sitting together in silence. Acquiring this understanding, it has been made very clear how much technology can come between these special experiences. Technology is not to blame, but it is our relationship with technology that we must question and consider. Does this come between my relationship with another person? Does this inhibit my presence with myself or with others?
Let us not forget the wonder. This technology, this world within walls, it can lead us to forget that we are on a floating, spinning, jetting rock amongst many other moving rocks that seem endless. It can lead us to forget that there – on the other side of that door – is a world unknown. A world that has maybe been read about in textbooks, those of which do not contain the answers to all that is. For aren’t textbooks forever being updated? Newer versions, newer books… Newer knowledge all the time. Life started for me when I put down the textbook, and started doing it myself.
In becoming more present and playful it seems I only know a few things for sure, I will not be going back to sleep.
Nor growing up.
With Love and Curiosity,