When I was four years old my very favorite toy was a plastic duck. Ducky (I was not one of those creative children) was dragged everywhere by a thin rubber string, tied snugly around his neck and rarely a moment passed when that string was not gripped tight inside my little fist. At the age of six, Clowny (see first set of parentheses), a stuffed clown doll sewn from terrycloth, was the new object of my devotion, replacing Ducky’s place in my heart.
As Clowny and I eventually parted ways, life moved on and I adopted slightly more advanced playthings. But it was only upon later entering the adolescent phase of mistaking information as knowledge and [limited] experience as maturity, that a subtle tick-tick-tick began tapping out the persistent query: What’s the point? The only conclusion I could assert was that we are placed on this planet to achieve happiness…I suppose. Although it seemed baffling the answer wasn’t more readily available, soon enough life took over and the question faded into the distance.
It wasn’t until the age of 35 before I again reached the point of perhaps possibly admitting there might be some fundamental aspects of life yet to be understood. I wasn’t spiritual nor did I wish to be. Successful and satisfied with my life was, there was no need to rock the boat. Until there was. However, when I began exploring the words of the masters pointing to the answers (i.e. Patanajali & the Buddha), the questions themselves didn’t even make sense.
A growing number of us do not claim to be religious, even if we were raised to believe something. Technology has become our age’s worship and consumerism, the means by which we pray. We’ve accepted certain views as they’ve been explained and endorsed by the majority, thus establishing the basis for many of our belief systems.
Admitting that we may not be playing the right game sticks a rusty metal pole directly into the spokes of the wheel of life. Clarity however, is often times about shifting perception by fractions of an inch; and a willingness to accept new ideas doesn’t mean any more than agreeing to be flexible with existing views.
What’s the point?
Take a slow look around. This is the point. It is never about anything but THIS. Whatever it is we are doing, thinking, breathing, seeing, touching, loving — at this very moment — is the point. Experiencing life itself, moment by moment, is the point.
And we’re missing it. Because we’re too busy thinking about other things.
Mindfulness is being built up as the fad of the decade. Why? Out of dire necessity. Engaging in the moment isn’t just about becoming more focused employees, better friends and more engaged parents. Mindfulness is about living an authentic life, embracing the unknown, admitting that we’re scared and making a conscious decision to plow forward anyway. Agreeing to dive into the current and allow life’s vibrancy to move us. Deciding here and now to live every moment experientially.
But — this commitment to momentary living is ultimately not for us. Who this effort is truly for, is our children and for theirs; and it must begin now. Experiencing life through a monitor is not living, it’s programming and we are the last generation that remembers what life was like before video games, e-mail and cell phones. If we don’t pull our children’s heads out of cyberspace and into the realm of now, where are they going spend the rest of their lives? Anxiously twitching while checking their glasses for the latest stock quotes?
Just as television became an integrated part of our culture in the fifties, we invited the internet into our homes in the 1990’s. But this has gone far beyond the respectful boundaries of a courteous houseguest. TV and internet have not only entered our homes, they’ve commandeered our lives. These toys are destroying our health and we’ve long lost the ability to put them down. We’re addicted and so are our children.
Without first examining our own values we are unable to develop and support those of our children. Period. We hopped onto this virtual highway without knowing where it was leading. It’s time to open our eyes and see where we’re heading — and make an important decision — do we grab the wheel or continue hurling down this road?
Each day we remain disengaged from the present we stray further away from our natural state of awareness, peace, and authentic happiness. Our children are well on their way. This growing generation of youth is continually bombarded with an onslaught of gizmos, gadgets, apps, ads and games. They do not, as we did, have the benefit of a childhood free from technological distractions. Developing skills to live in the moment is critical, both for our children and for us. However, it is up to us to show the way.
~ by Christine Fowle
~ Photo Credit: Aunt Karen