When my grandmother was raising me, it was a simpler time. Our phone had a circular dial and was not really ‘our’ phone at all, but a ‘party line.’ This meant that we shared the same number with several other people. So, if the phone rang you had to listen to be sure it was ‘your’ ring before you picked it up. If you needed to make a call and picked up the receiver you would often hear other people talking. So, you had to wait.
Waiting is not something my children’s generation is used to. Everything in their world is instant. Recently, I witnessed two teenagers texting each other at a party, and they were sitting side by side! My own daughter has actually called me from her cell phone rather than walk 20 feet to get my attention. What is lost is not just human interaction, which involves actual conversation, listening and eye contact. What is lost is the space between thought and action; the realm of imagination.
Granny didn’t own a TV until the late sixties. It was black and white and only had 3 channels. Watching it was a privilege, not a right. If I wanted to see an episode of “Leave It To Beaver,” my homework and chores were always done first. More often than not, I was encouraged to ‘go outside and observe nature.’ I spent hours watching ants carry miniature grains of sugar into their colony. To make it more interesting, I often provided that sugar!
That ‘simpler’ time developed my imagination & fueled my drive to become somebody who created not just existed. I often worry about this generation. What will they do when the power goes out? Who will they be? How much charge is built up on their inner batteries?
Today we took our girls to the beach but forgot to bring the frisbee. Imagine my thrill when my oldest spontaneously began to play ‘imaginary’ frisbee with me. For several minutes we threw and caught a disc seen only by the two of us. We jumped and twirled in the sand as onlookers gawked. Later, one man asked me if we were throwing ‘a very small’ frisbee because he had been unable to see it.
Indeed. If we can cultivate in our children the ability to create what isn’t there and enjoy it, they will be rich no matter what they have. They will find joy in their greatest sorrows. And that legacy will last longer than anything we put in the Will. (Helen Hudson is the author of, “Kissing Tomatoes.” http://www.helen-hudson.com.)