Bits and Bites

I was just thinking . . .

during my hike in the Carson National Forest outside of Angel Fire, New Mexico about the art of – being present. You know, listening intently when somebody speaks or noticing the happy face of a produce worker, getting that small high from frolicking with your favorite pet.

I know . . . the oft-missed stuff of everyday life gets magnified in the fresh mountain air and the still of the forest. My breath was taken away . . . literally, huffing and puffing up a steep incline. This is not a – stop and smell the roses – lecture that has my head spinning (part of it is the high altitudes) – because most of us relegate our reflective zones to vacations.

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I’ve a bone to pick with the intrusion of (not the usefulness of) technology – because who could argue the magnificent medical advances and educational enhancements and such.  But when did paying attention mean – as long as no one notices the handheld device on ones lap at a conference? It’s the elbow by the parent next to us to look up because our kid is up to bat, that kind of stuff.

It wasn’t the vistas or the golden Fall leaves on this outdoor adventure that had me reeling, I’ve been noodling over this subject for some time, a long time in fact. Ever since a poet at a writer conference lectured about his decision to be constantly mindful so as not to miss those inspiring opportunities. It’s a disquieting subject given the ramifications, specifically when it comes to that awful word – regret. Regret for the thing we didn’t do (with people), regret for the things we didn’t see (with people) or regret for the time we weren’t in tune when a person needed us most.

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As a fiction author it’s a must to hunker deep into the quiet recesses of our imagination where the technology is silent and the distractions are zero. Yes nil! Because how else can you fully unleash the creative juices to develop characters and such. But it happens because we put it on the calendar and set aside anything that keeps us from the task at hand. Has anybody noticed we don’t do this for human beings anymore? Put them on the calendar and then do nothing else when we are with them?

Beyond the must have author cave, it’s the day-to-day grind, littered with moments and visuals that I am afraid we all have a tendency to let slip, because the cyber world had demanded constant attention. Because we want to see it all and do it all with technology. Not with people, with technology. Common sense as long as we can feel it with our fingertips.

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It’s not a hoorah when some one is in need of a kind gesture or a loved one passes or calamity affects our human circle in the form of a terrible decease. But it’s life. Last I knew twitter can’t hug, it doesn’t love. Just the other day I read about the jabs to a football franchise owner who still owns a flip phone. Really, somebody was on him about a flip phone. He looked pretty happy. I wonder about those who stole a moment from a human being to make that post. Form over substance isn’t it?

I better not mention the version of my IPhone – but I will admit I do own one and many other fine technological devices. So don’t confuse this with technology bashing but rather a moment to consider that it has become our pal. Remember that commercial – I haven’t seen it in a while – where a handsome 60-somehing guy is sitting in his beautiful living room . . . carrying on a conversation with his phone. There was nobody around but he was smiling ear to ear. Really? Is that what we want for companionship? It can talk to us and run the vacuum for us and tell us how to get somewhere. It owns us instead of the other way around. Distracted, distracted, distracted. All around us drivers whiz down the road, on autopilot, enjoying their connection de jour. And let’s skip over the safety issues with these behaviors. I like all my Apple products and my texting capability but I also like it when my husband isn’t clicking away and then later say – “You never said that.” Just the other day I overheard my son describe a current television program in such detail. He is supposed to be completely unplugged from TV and technology what with high school and work and baseball – you know, those things we do with other people – surely he hasn’t a way to keep up with the evening programs? Ok, that’s a stretch.

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In spite of my contemplative leanings, I like everybody am caught by the mad dash and quest for perfection. News flash . . . it’ll never be in our technology. Because, gosh darn it, when I thought I needed my laptop to consider this topic, I actually needed a Gatorade and every ounce of my energy to move one foot after the other up the steep winding path, to gasp for my breathe in the thin air, to push through the burning thighs . . .

Down off my soapbox, gotta backlog of emails and tweets.

To be or not to be . . . present. I am just saying – put it down.