This video has gone viral on the internet.
Just spend a couple minutes watching it and it will be clear why. “The millennials” are what they call us. We’re the generation of people who were either born into technology, or introduced to it shortly after we were born. I remember, in second grade, how obsessed I was with the computers in my classroom because of the games we could play on them. When my family got a computer for our household, I learned to surf the web and locate my favorite computer game websites long before my parents knew what I was up to. I was taught how to “Google” in third grade.
And in 10th grade I created a Facebook page. I created it to keep in touch with the friends I met one summer at a camp.
By the time I graduated high school and was about midway through college, it seemed like I only used the computer to either write or read emails, complete assignments, or, you might have guessed it, check Facebook.
But now it’s also Twitter, LinkedIn, this blog, and some other blogs that I also log into. And now that I have a Smartphone, it’s only getting worse. Hours go by in front of my computer, but today I finally had enough. Actually, most days I have “had enough” of my bad computer habits, but it’s hard pulling myself away.
But today I got up, grabbed my keys and purse and headed outside to my car. My intention was to drive somewhere — anywhere, but most likely the K-Mart up the road — just to get out of the house (yes…this has been an exciting summer, y’all.) But as soon as I stepped outside, my mind communicated to the nerve endings in my skin that it NEEDED the vitamin D from the sun. The heat just felt so good. I had somehow failed to realize that for the past 16 hours I had been indoors and immobile. So I just stayed there, by my car, with my hand on the door handle. I opened the door after a while, and a wave of heat from inside blew over my body before I slammed the car door shut. Rethinking what I was about to do, I went back inside my house to grab this book I’m reading through called The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. I shoved it in my purse with the intention of going on a walk through the neighborhood and finding a place to read. I didn’t know where I would end up, but I just knew being in the heat and enjoying summer was what needed to happen.
I ended up at a park not far from home. It has this huge clearing with an old soccer goal that needs new netting. There is a basketball court with net-less baskets, and benches for sitting and watching children or, in my case, reading a book. I took a seat and looked at the strangely empty field around me. It was about 3:30 in the afternoon. I relished the quiet and the novelty of being outside, but it was weird how empty everything was and how still a playground could be in the middle of the day. I kind of stared at the, indeed, motionless swings.
Near the bench I was sitting on ants were scurrying around in a seemingly aimless pattern. And every now and then, while reading, I got the sensation that one of them was crawling up my leg. Out of the three, maybe four times I brushed my leg, only once do I remember actually seeing an ant. But I had forgotten what it was like to fight the elements a little bit, and to, more pleasantly, inhale the scent of grass.
I sat, surrounded by quiet, wondering how long a place like this could remain empty on a summer afternoon, when I finally saw a single schoolboy walking by a way’s away. He was wearing a backpack with his head down as he trudged on by — he was in his world, and I was in mine…until he shouted “hello.” I looked up, really surprised, actually, but managed to kick my brain into gear and yell “hi” back. He kept walking, and I looked down and started reading, but then glanced up again and saw him running away! He ran up a hill to what was, apparently, his house. The back of the house was concealed by the trees that enclosed the park, and so he kind of disappeared out of sight.
I wondered if there was something up with him, or if maybe I had sounded unfriendly. My “hi” was stilted because I was so used to being alone. So I figured maybe that was the problem…
It wasn’t long, though, before I heard him from far off again. When I looked up I saw him walking over with a dog on a leash, and it was the sound of the dog’s tag clinking against it’s collar that I heard making the faintest tinkling sound. I closed the book, kind of surprised by what was happening and unsure what to do. But when the dog was close enough, I reached down to pet her before she started exploring the area near the bench. We both watched in silence as the dog sniffed about.
“She loves eating ants,” the boy said with a laugh. I laughed, noticing how many were still crawling, helter-skelter, near the bench. He was a people-person. I could tell. Without batting an eye he told me that most people thought that she, meaning the dog, was a Corgi, but actually she was of a breed called, Basenji, and that she couldn’t bark. Feeling embarrassed that I couldn’t think of something to say about dog breeds, I asked the dog’s name. “Magic,” he replied with a smile. And then Magic led the boy off in another direction.
I glanced over at him, wondering if he would come back, but never did. And after a while I wondered if I had imagined the whole thing because it felt so un-millennial-like, if you know what I mean. We’re the generation dependent on technology to make us feel comfortable, to help us feel normal. But here were the two of us, not changing the world, but defying the world’s labels in our own unique way…maybe? — me and some boy I had never seen before and will probably never see again…
But still, it was nice to just, well, look up.
In wherever I was in The Power of Now, Tolle talked about being fully present in the moment. Taking a break from the screen was a step in that direction.