The world is full of wonders from the flight of the bumblebee, something which science says is impossible, to the first time a baby opens its eyes and looks its mother and father in the eye. We lose track of those moments of wonder though as we are trapped more and more in a high paced, high stress society full of innovations that are supposed to make life easier, but are they?
A few years ago I wrote a column about the advances made during my great grandmother's lifetime and how magical those decades must have seemed for her. She started life with the horse and carriage and ended it soon after the first man walked on the moon. What an incredible juxtaposition of technology imprinted on her life and the lives of so many people who lived during that part of our history. She saw the elimination of small pox, the mastery of the atom (well, what we thought was mastery). She lived through several terrible wars including World War I and World War II as well as some of the most fearsome years of the Cold War.
At the time I thought about how magical these advances may have appeared in the lifetime of that generation, but now a few years later I am starting to wonder if they have been entirely beneficial to our society. This may be a radical thought, but I think technology is killing our spirit and our ability to achieve and be our best.
Maybe I am just naïve or dreamy eyed sometimes, but for all the trouble and hazards that people were fraught with 100 or 200 years ago, they had a spirit of self-reliance, but more than that they were also spiritual in nature. I fear all the innovations and advances we have achieved have not only curbed our desire to be self-sufficient, but has eliminated our ability to be in touch with the natural world. We are so insulated from the world itself that we are hurting ourselves.
Our humanity has a basic need to feel belonging to the world. When we insulate ourselves from nature and natural progressions as well as socialization we are damaging our spirituality in my opinion. Many of us avoid nature as much as possible it seems either from a fear or a lack of understanding.
When I was a pre-teen and teen, my family used to camp every summer. It was the highlight of the year and for many years we packed up the car and relocated at the KOA in Jim Thorpe now the Jim Thorpe Campground for at least one week. During one of those vacations we were sitting in the screen house next to our tent having supper when this car pulled into the campsite below us. The campsites in the KOA were arranged in a loop that worked its way downhill and back up to the top of the circle again. At the top were the spigots for water. This particular campsite was two down from ours and situated where the road curved to go down the hill.
As we watched this family took out clear plastic drop cloths and lined the entire campsite from the road to the woods with them. Once completed, they pitched their tent and made some dinner on a camp stove. There was no fire there probably because it may have melted their impromptu floor. While this was slightly amusing to us, it was nothing compared to what the night would bring.
Around 10 or 11 p.m. that night as we lay in our tent, there was a low rumble, then a flash of lightning and another rumble. Within minutes rain pelted the roof of our tent and we could hear it running under the floor and down the site. Rain continued for hours and we fell asleep before it ended.
When morning came, we left our tent to find the summer heat drying up our site. It was not the case below us. We watched humorously as this bedraggled family attempted to exit their tent only to discover the entire site was inundated with water. The plastic floor converted the site into a swimming pool of sorts. They stomped around in the water and with little delay they struck their disastrously wet campsite and left muttering. I would imagine they probably bought a camper soon after that experience.
The natural world is fading as a priority. We need to expose ourselves more to the wonder around us and not hide behind technology or we will lose our humanity to machines. Already people are not socializing face to face as they used to. We use Facebook and Twitter instead. Our excuse is convenience, but in reality are we training ourselves to avoid interpersonal relationships?
We need to re-establish our sense of wonder and connection to nature. How? Some simple things come to mind. When was the last time you watched a rainbow form and disappear? Or studied a flower like a child? Have you watched ants work for more than ten seconds before you off them with pesticide? What about taking ten minutes out of your day to just marvel at how the clouds move, form and dissipate in the sky?
Who cares why things happen? Sometimes we just need to become children again. We need to wonder, watch, forget the questions and just enjoy the ride. Slow for a little while every day and notice the world around you. You might just enjoy it more.
Til next time…