We talked about a lot of things, and I remember telling him that would be my ideal job - getting paid to discuss and talk about the meaning of life. Like Socrates and Plato did, back in the day.
See? Talking with me about the meaning of life would be cool, laid back, we'd use phrases like "back in the day" and keep things hip.
What's that you say? "Back in the day" is no longer hip? The hell you say!
Well, we could discuss stuff like that, too. I'm easy. Besides, just who gets to decide what is hip, anyway?
These are things I wonder, occasionally.
But, I digress...
The point is, I dig conversation. I'm curious. I love finding out what makes people tick, and why. Sometimes these stories shock us, sometimes they sadden us, sometimes they bore us. But when we're honest, when we're vulnerable, when we're real - that's the meat of life. I believe all of us seek these connections.
Their ability to be genuine (in Vegas of all places!) is what I enjoy so much about Bob and Jen. My time with them last week was too short.
Being real is hard to do today.
First of all, everyone's so busy. Who has time to talk about the meaning of life when homework needs to be done, baths need to be run, and work is a 24 hour proposition?
Second of all, how can I find out what really moves you about a movie, a song, a painting, a project, or anything else for that matter, when you're staring into your phone every five minutes? Or, *I* pick up my phone every five minutes, right when you're getting to the good part?
How do we even know what moves us anymore if we can't sit still long enough to think about it - without distraction?
Today, there *is* no life without distraction.
Third of all, and maybe most importantly, nobody wants to be real anymore. Not really, anyway. It’s too hard. It’s too scary. It’s too painful to be real, to be vulnerable, and to have that realness dismissed.
So we connect at arm’s length. 140 characters at a time. Or on FaceBook. Or blogs or email or text or skype or IM or, sheesh, what else is there that I’m forgetting?
And these connections are often just glimpses of the best possible foot we can put forward, without showing that which moors us, as well as that which unhinges us, day in and day out.
But then again, that’s what’s so attractive about social media…because too much of what’s below the surface can be off-putting. We don’t want to be off-put. We want to be entertained, to laugh, to clown…not to be made to think too much or actually, God forbid, have to *do* something.
I think about these things as I walk my trail. I think about my daughter, who’s an only child and is growing up in this age of distraction. She's got lots of cousins, and she's got friends about the same age who live on either side of us. Her days at school are full, and when she comes home and gets homework done, her evenings are, too. More often than not, she plays outside, and I like that because I know the time is coming soon enough that she'll be just like me - in front of the computer all the time. On the phone all the time. On the iPad all the time. In front of the TV all the time. All.The.Time.
This is not an exaggeration. I wish it was.
I'm fortunate that, barring a rare late work appointment,* I get to be with her when she gets home from school. I appreciate the routine we've developed with homework and that, for now, the first thing she wants to do when we get home is for me to swing her on the rope swing that hangs from a tree in the backyard. We've had some amazing talks during those swings. But I worry. I don't think talks stick like modeling does.
I try to get her ready for the truth of life.
"I know, Mom, not everybody's gonna like me."
"I know, Mom, not everybody has two moms and some people might make fun of me for that."
"I know, Mom, not everything in life is going to be easy and I have to be like that sailor who can take the boat in the thunder storm, not just when it’s sunny. I know, Mom. I know!"**
If I've told a story (or a variation thereof) more than twice, it's always, "I know, Mom. I know!"
How can you know, child? You're seven.
All I can do is have faith she’ll figure it out, or will seek to try, every day.***
Maybe in the end the seeking is what it’s all about anyway….
The things I read today that got me thinking about all this were from @_otis_, and Sherry Turkle, and Jim Dougherty, and this Ted Talk video.
**** Or, ahem, a trip to Vegas, hello parent-of-the-year!
** If any of this made you think of Idgie Threadgoode, we could totally be friends.
*** If any of this is making you think I’m seeking reinforcement for my parenting skills, let me assure you I’m not. I try to be a good parent, but I am far from it. See *, above.