Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Get Real

We live in an artificial world. We spend most of our time doing things that are not real. We watch Discovery Channel instead of hiking in the woods, we vote instead of participating in a democracy, we take vitamins instead of eating real food, we go to the gym put on headphones and stare at a TV screen instead of walking with a neighbor or playing basketball with our families, we chat on Twitter or MySpace instead of calling an old friend, we text our family instead of inviting them over to dinner. No wonder we feel confused, lonely and disconnected. We are disconnected from nature, our communities, our friends and family. It doesn't have to be this way. We can learn to be reengaged with our surroundings and we can feel good about it.

How this would look to each of us will be different. We each have different needs and different values. However, I think there will be elements of it that are similar to all of us. There are some things I would like to change in my own life to reengage with my world. The first would be to unplug myself. Whether it's tv or computer, it is difficult to engage with others while staring at a screen. I don't mean never turn them on but use them for a specific purpose instead of an all purpose time consumer. Once that tv or computer is off, you open up the world around you.

Say hi to a neighbor, take a minute and actually listen to what they have to say. Get involved in your neighborhood. Take an elderly neighbor to their doctor's appointment. Help a neighbor kid find their lost dog. We have lost a precious commodity in our neighborhoods. How many of us don't even know our next door neighbor's name. We chat online with strangers from countries all over the world, which is nice, but overlook the possibilities right in our own backyard.

Play a game with a family member, whether it be a child, a parent, an aunt or nephew. Take a minute from your day and play a game, monopoly or crazy eights or playing catch outside. The game is unimportant the time spent talking and laughing with a loved one is invaluable. It is estimated that parents only spend 35 minutes a week talking with their teenage child. Obviously our values and priorities have been misplaced.

Find somewhere to volunteer. I believe each of us wants to feel like they make a difference in this world, to feel they are valued. What better way could there be of doing this than to volunteer for a cause you feel passionate about. Lots of us feel undervalued and stressed at our work place, it can easily be the focus of our time and energy. Refocusing that energy back to something we believe in can reenergize us and bring meaning back to our lives.

Go outside. In whatever capacity your able, reconnect with nature. Whether it's going for a hike in the woods or sitting on your back stoop watching the birds at the feeder you put up. I read an article that said we will only be able to reverse our damage to the environment when we stop thinking of it as THE environment and start thinking about it as OUR environment. It doesn't matter if you live in a city or on 50 acres, what happens to this planet is affecting you. Perhaps it is not obvious yet, but the damage we are doing will catch up to us. We can only start affecting change when we realize this and start to make personal choices to say no more - that we will participate in this damage no more.

Today is the only today we have. There could be no better time than now to start a new path, to make a choice to do at least one thing differently. If we don't like the change it is easy enough to revert back to our old habits. But my guess is that is not what will happen.


  1. Thanks for the reminders. A lovely post.

  2. This post really made me think...I like that!