A craving for real, not virtual

Getting situated the first of the year takes me forever, and that's when everything is rosy. January 1 rolls around and we're busy with parades and all-day-pajamas and football and hams and such; not much gets accomplished that day.  If I spent January 1 alone, in a cabin in the woods, I'd get the year all set up, but that's not happening. I hate cold, I'm scared of bears, and I love family so....

Then comes January 2. Normally. This year the flu came instead, but also a grandchild 2000 miles away who got hurt on a trampoline, and is currently in a huge cast, riding around in a wheelchair. She's going to be fine, but something I didn't see coming as a grandparent - when your kids' kids get hurt you hurt and fret and worry and wring hands and pray your heads off, just like you did with your own kids back in the day, not that any of that except the praying helps a whit, but you do. And it takes every ounce of energy out of you til you know they're going to be okay.

We sent her a wheelchair, cast and bandages for her doll, Joy and that seemed to make it a bit better, til we can get back to Texas and love on her ourselves. If you have to be in a wheelchair, with a heavy cast, then obviously your doll should be too.

Right after we knew our granddaughter would be okay, we got slammed with the flu, not at the same time, but rather a lovely handing the baton off when the first one finished the race. As soon as I knew I'd survive he started with it. Which brings us to now.

This past December I bought Whitney English's Day Designer, 2015 version, and am still trying to fill out the first core sheets, where you figure out what makes you tick, what your goals are up to when you take your last breath here on earth. Then you figure out how to put climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or becoming a Rockette onto your yearly, monthly, and daily schedule. I'm at that part now. The designer seemed a bit pricey ($59 plus s/h) but that's about 17 drinks served through the local coffee drive-up, which most of us don't hesitate over. If we're honest, most of us have our own '17 drinks of coffee' thing that is much like money falling through an unknown hole in our pocket. Ultimately it cost me one month's allowance, and so far I think it's worth every penny. Whitney only opens her shop at certain times of the year, as each designer is made specifically for the customer. I believe she'll be producing more in May of this year.

During the free webinar that comes with the planner, Whitney mentioned a book, "Strengthsfinder2.0. Reading the book takes 30 minutes, then there's a list of 34 'themes', which are names for categories of strengths. The book comes with a sealed one-time-use code, allowing you online access, to the strength assessment. The hardback cost $15.18 at Amazon, or $13.99 on kindle.

Taking the assessment can reframe how we work, play, or plan. Tom Rath, the author, asserts that people generally work on their weaknesses, trying to get better where they're not naturally inclined, rather than figuring out what they are naturally gifted at and building on that. Interesting perspective. So rather than me studying math til I'm blue in the face, so I can volunteer to do people's taxes for free, perhaps study art or writing or find a place to serve that requires extra measures of empathy.  I'll be interested to see what my top five 'themes' of talents/strengths are. Results are not based on education, experience, acquired skills but rather natural bents. Supposedly who we are at around 3 is the same as who we'll be when we're 26 - not sure if that's heartwarming for all the young moms out there....

Whitney's webinar encouraged us to ask ourselves a question: 'What will make a better version of you?" After rolling it around in my head for a few days, wasting time checking statuses online, I decided to change to checking Facebook once a day. If today was to be my last day on earth, I doubt I'd wish I'd spent much of it online, seeing what everyone is eating, cooking, watching, where they're going, who they're with, etc. I can see myself weaning away even more in days to come. I don't want a virtual life, I want a real one, with real people, breathing the same air I am. I want to be in this life thing with real people, those who will care when I'm not here anymore.

In the relational category of my resolutions/goals, I wrote this:

'Be present in the moment, not the media.'

This past seven days I've knit two hats, made a cake from scratch, had coffee with my daughter, wine with my  husband, walked the dog most days while our boots crunched down the snow on the uncleared sidewalks, soaked in scalding, scented bubble baths while reading a book, pieced a table runner, held grandchildren on my lap, helped teach children's church to K-5 and watched them worship freely, talked to a child about not seeing his Daddy for the past 8 years because he's in prison, organized my pantry, scrubbed floors and toilets and put fresh sheets on the beds, took muffins to our neighbors, called my best friend and talked for an hour; all of which made me feel alive and vital and engaged in the world, loved, honored to be alive. Facebook / Instagram has never done that for me, and likely isn't going to start now. I don't want to finish this life having won the highest level of whatever virtual game is on its sidebar. I want a skin-to-skin life, touching real people and being touched back.

So how about today - wherever you are, just a teensy bit more of being truly in the moment, and not in the media, because what we're all craving out of this life is not virtual, but real. Touch something, touch somebody, talk to someone, hug someone, feed someone, share a meal with someone, touch the actual pages of a book, stir some soup, fold some fresh laundry, kiss chubby cheeks, smell the top of a baby's head, and spend some time alone, not at a screen.

We don't have any guarantee of tomorrow, just today. Today I'm off to do laundry, finish the table runner, play at recess and have lunch at my grandson's school, sip homemade coffee with a daughter, when I might get to snuggle my newest granddaughter, then to the movies with Cub Sweetheart where we'll plow through an entire bucket of buttered popcorn - cholesterol be damned, then home for wine-thirty, lasagna and garlic bread, a little knitting of a scarf for an upcoming birthday, before I head to the tub to enjoy the last pages of my book. I plan to go to bed tonight filled up with touching and being touched, talking face to face, cooking and eating real food rather than just pinning it to a board.

If today was my last day, that's likely about how I'd choose to spend it, so that's what I'm actually going to do. And not a moment more today of seeing life through a screen, but not actually living it myself.



Karen S. said…
Great reminder! Your day today sounds fabulous!!!
Linda said…
I'be been seeing this thead woven all through the Internet in recent das and feeling the same nudge to limit my "screen time". There is something so freeing in letting it go.
Beautifully said, Bev.

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