Life’s Small Moments
As I write, Sunday football is on in our den, the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone from today’s lunch, and everyone is cozy in their sweatpants. This was one of the coldest Thanksgivings on record, and days later it was twenty five degrees warmer and very wet. New England weather wanted us to stay inside and enjoy our family and friends. My family played Monopoly and Taboo, tried new recipes, and sat around the table for not only dinner, but lunch too. Long holiday weekends enable everyone to slow down from their busy schedules and reconnect with the people they care about most. I recently read two very different articles that have the same message from disparate angles. The message being that unstructured time spent with family is precious and we can’t allow the rush of our daily lives to usurp the potential for experiences and memories that could last a lifetime.
Yvonne Abraham, a Boston Globe columnist, wrote about her experiences recovering from a concussion. As some of you may know, I had a serious concussion in February of 2017 and it was a humbling experience. Yvonne’s description of her injury and the recovery is one of the best I have read. Amidst this very painful experience (physically and emotionally), Yvonne was was able to find a silver lining and lesson. “I’m determined not to get all the way back there, however. I’d like to hang on to the gifts my concussion gave me, like the nothingness it forced into my life — the space to think, cook, and really listen to my kid. I’d like to be less of a slave to screens, though I’m ashamed to report that that resolution is already slipping as my symptoms dissipate. I’d like to hold on to the gratitude I feel, for escaping worse damage, and for the friends, colleagues, doctors, and therapists who have been so kind to me.” Yvonne has a lesson for all of us.
Seth Godin, a blogger I follow, recently took a different angle. He recently wrote about the paradox of the “digital divide.” He explained that we used to worry about children whose parents couldn’t afford technology or an Internet connection; the fear being that lack of connectivity would deepen the gap in access to opportunity. However, as the cost of tablets and smartphones has decreased, a new problem has arisen. “As a result, parents who are busy, distracted, or can’t afford to spend as much 1:1 time as they’d like are unknowingly encouraging their kids to become digital zombies, with a constant need for stimulation…Boredom, daydreaming, a good book, building in three dimensions, interactivity with other humans–these are precious skills, skills that are being denied kids that are simply given a plate of chicken fingers and a tablet instead.” How many times have you been to a restaurant and seen parents on their phones while the kids eat, or misbehave? Maybe it’s flipped; you see kids on their tablets while parents talk and eat? It’s everywhere. I see kids watching TV in the backseat of their car on the way to the grocery store. What happened to the license plate game, I Spy or 20 Questions in the car? It needs to stop. These are wasted opportunities to connect and hear about the moments big and little that occur in our daily lives.
I know that it’s much easier said than done; I’m certainly guilty of not unplugging often enough and needing to refocus my attention. Technology is an amazing tool that can bring us together but it can also drive us into silos. It can be convenient, easy, and empowering but also maddening, frustrating, and divisive in our personal and professional lives. The challenge is in resisting for ourselves and our children. I believe it’s worth the work, the tantrum, and the self discipline so that life’s small moments don’t pass us by. Long holiday weekends are few, and opportunities exist each day if we allow ourselves to stop and focus on what really matters most in our lives.