When I was in elementary school, every morning at 6 AM, I would wander from my bed sleepily to the front porch to check the weather for the day. Some days it was eminently clear what the day would bring. The splash of the rain on my toes confirmed the patter that invaded my dreams the night before. There were also those rare summer days in the Northwest where you know it is going to be perfect from the second the sun comes up. No fog needs to lift or mist needs to clear. The day has dawned and it smelled of blackberries and sweet hay.
There were other days when it wasn’t as clear. I would stand there, as the air washed over me, and feel the day. Sometimes I could smell rain or see a pewter snow cloud in the distance or feel that a marine mist was settling in. I would watch the cedars and pines rustle but hold tight to their goods to maintain our Evergreen State reputation. I would wake up with the day slowly and see what it had to tell me, long before I spoke a word to anyone.
Things have changed …
- As a mother of three elementary age children, we often talk about the weather and what the day will bring. Inevitably when the question is posed, someone reaches for the iPhone to check the weather. The front door is within an arms length and we are looking down at a screen not up at the whispering clouds.
- My mother talks of her experience in youth hostels as a time of great community building, where people from all over the world connected. She is still gathering once a year with friends she met while backpacking in Europe. It is not uncommon today to walk into a hostel “gathering” room and have no one look up because they are busy with virtual friends.
- My husband and his best friend were mountain biking last spring when a woman came up behind them in her car on a very remote rock-faced mountain bike trail. They informed her that the home she was looking for could not possibly be at the end of this remote stretch of the mountain but she insisted on following her phone and passed them coming back from the end of the nature trail, 2 hours later. She was so focused on her Maps App that there was no way these two mountain bikers could possibly be right, except they were.
Perhaps it is a romantic notion to think of moving away from smart technology in an effort to “connect” with each other more. We want our kids to be wise in the ways of technology just as they are in other subjects, but we do not want to look down anymore.
We are leaving on this journey with one laptop, no data plan, and no handheld entertainment devices. We will watch TV in other languages, scour local libraries for books in English, and ask for directions in our best attempts at local languages. We will lean on each other and at times, on total strangers, to help us navigate the world through the people who inhabit each place. I get a little teary thinking about turning in my smartphone, but the truth is just because it makes my life easier, I am certain it is not making me smarter. I was much more resourceful and courageous before we met.
Pie in the sky? Maybe, but the excitement I feel just thinking about it, discomfort and all, lets me know it is exactly the right thing.
Here’s to looking up through rose-colored glasses!