When I was about 13 or 14 years old, I got a Timex watch. Takes a licking and keeps on ticking. It had a timer, told me the date, and it had INDIGLO. Remember INDIGLO? I’d tuck under my blankets and watch that turquoise bluey green shine. I was such a winner with that thing on.
Thing is, I noticed that I’d check the time 5 times in a row but not actually clock it (see what I did there). Someone would ask me the time and I’d have no idea even though I’d just looked at my watch. I was unconsciously and habitually looking at the object on my wrist with no connection or outcome. It drove me nuts, so I actually stopped wearing my watch for a bit, and then when I put it back on, I tried to be more deliberate when looking at it. You know. Using my watch for a purpose - to help me know what time it was!
You gotta know that my watch wasn’t touch screen, it had no games . . . and the INDIGLO wasn’t THAT exciting.
But it was something. I’m tired. Check my watch. Hungry. Check my watch. Bored. Check my watch. Check my watch. Check my watch. No idea what time it was.
I think we crave activation. Reason for excitement. Outside sources of motivation. Escape from moments that are hard or even just boring.
Compared to my little old Timex watch, what I now carry around, a phone with the whole internet in my pocket, something Tim Schwartz, the director of Innovation for Whitby Montessori school says has a “[technology] combined with content designed to manipulate our neurochemistry” and is “laying the foundation for behavioral addictions on a grand scale.”
That ain’t no INDIGLO.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to preach against phones and screens.
I just want to ask myself if I am CONSCIOUS about what I’m doing.
Hope is no fragile thing - but it has to be accessed on purpose. It has to be planted. Nurtured. Known. Thought through. Prayed about. Considered. Moved toward. Planned. Acted on.
I think hoping is a bit like going against the current in a river. We wouldn’t HAVE to hope if life easily and automatically delivered to our goals.
Last summer we were camping on the Vedder River and decided to walk up the river a bit to an island in the middle. It was knee high. Mostly ok. We had partners and held on to each other by using sticks. We took our time and talked A LOT as we navigated every slippery rock, lost our flip flops and had to share water shoes. It was a THING. We were exhausted by the time we got to the island.
It was 15 intense minutes.
Hope is like that. It’s holding on. Navigating. Trying. Failing. Moving. Sometimes losing. Getting help. And slowly but surely, making our way forward, even though life seems to completely resist any forward movement.
Love or hate him, I heard something interesting from Elon Musk. I don’t follow him much, but I heard that he was talking about Artificial Intelligence and that he thought it was a big deal and potential threat to the future of humanity. For Elon Musk, it all comes down to HOW people use their technology. Do they create with it - or do they consume it. If we just continue to consume, technology will use us, instead of us using it.
I gotta tell you. There are fart videos, hilarious kitty videos, Ted Talks, helpful vets giving advice about how to give your cat medicine so it doesn’t froth and moan . . . it’s all out there. I have my own youtube channel in an attempt to help families connect and work through hard things. There are so many amazing and helpful things that I am so grateful for. BUT there is also an infinite amount of entertainment and distraction AND I gotta say - garbage.
I try to work on my use / or being used by technology. But I bet you’ll be surprised by this next bit.
Know what I’m determining to be conscious about this year?? BOOKS!! I know. Are you kidding me? I write books! I write blogs.. How can books be a problem? Ah come on. Even eating carrots can be a problem if it’s done in excess.
I’m just noticing that I escape a lot. If I’m into a series, I can’t stop until I’m done. It’s hard to go to bed. It’s hard to parent the kids’ through their petty interactions with each other. When I’m reading a book - it’s more real than anything happening in my life. It’s all I care about. It’s just way too easy and fun to remove myself from all the hard things that I need conscious hope and energy in order to keep moving through and tuck my nose away into a book.
I just want to practice being present and engaged. I just want to do things on purpose. Be deliberate. I’m doing my best not to run away into a book, into a phone, into a hairbrained scheme to become a millionaire doing things I know I’ll never follow through on but it’s fun to think about.
How about you?
Life happens to us moment by moment.
Sometimes these moments are beautiful. A baby’s toothless smile. It’s infinite.
Sometimes these moments, they are so **$&##$ difficult. A diagnosis. A break in a relationship. Or a relationship that just has so many issues that are so frustrating but you need to stay engaged and figure it out. Or someone dies.
My dream is that these hope notes have been a little bit like you and me, walking up a river, encouraging each other, holding on to each other and navigating through on the onslaught of all things life related, and following the thread of hope as we all take our slippery little steps forward.