How do you convey to someone you love them… in such a manner that this knowledge is lodged firmly in their hearts?
I am convinced such love does not stem from big dramatic flowery moments. Love is built during day-to-day ordinary and boring moments—snippets of time when we interact with each other. Like the slow drip of water on a stone, changes are made on the inside and the outside. But it takes personal interaction—blue eyes looking into blue eyes—or brown eyes—where we are willing to give one-on-one attention to that person.
The challenge? We live in a machine oriented world and it is slowly robbing us of the desire to create those moments.
It seems we prefer to interact with our machines and not each other.
Below is quote from a book I recently read.
“Our children have never known a world without machines……there are more machines than we can possibly count; beware, beware, lest they take us over. We can’t absorb it all. We know too much, too quickly, and one of the worse side effects of this avalanche of technology is the loss of compassion.”
This quote was written by Madeleine L’Engle, winner of the Newberry Medal for her novel, “A Wrinkle in Time”. I am sure you can identify with her comments.
But…. here’s the twist…..
She wrote those words in—1970.
47 years ago….. think about that…. She wrote her comments 47 years ago.
When I read her quote, I was transported back in time. In 1970 I was a freshman in college and I started thinking … just what machines is she talking about?
In 1970, I had a portable electric typewriter; a car; a hair dryer with a bonnet attached to a hose; a boom box/ghetto blaster (as they were called then) that played cassette tapes; a television with maybe 6 stations; a telephone attached to a wall with a long cord (which was never long enough). Homes had dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, vacuum cleaners.
And she thought these machines were going to take us over?
What would she say today?
I see parents and grandparents sitting at the park or in a restaurant and they are interacting with their personal handheld machine—not with family members. I see teenagers and young adults walking with each other but not truly engaging with each other as they are multi-tasking the relationships around them—through their machines.
I was at an ice cream shop recently and noticed a mother sitting with her daughter at a high-top table. The daughter was eating her ice cream and the mother was reading her phone. Now, I am not judging her as perhaps this was a critical email or text or, she was trying to get work done—multi-tasking her life.
As I looked at the dull expression on her daughter’s face, I thought of similar expressions I see all the time. The message sent is—there is someone else more important than you and I am willing to ignore you for a while—to let you be second choice—while I interact with them.
I know it is mind-numbing to sit in an ice cream shop and play “I spy with my little eye something …..red.” I have played more games of I-spy with my grandchildren than I care to think about.
Yet, the truth is ….. life is mostly made up of dull and boring moments…. But they are the moments where you can plant the seeds of love—the seeds that say you are special in my life—but you cannot plant them if you are ignoring the person in front of you.
Recently, I had a Nana day with my grandson (who will turn 5 in May). We hiked trails at the Chattahoochee Nature Center while kicking pine cones and jumping over tree roots. He knows only two modes of travel—run or jump. We were on the way to our local yogurt shop and my grandson was a bit deflated finding out it would take 25 minutes to reach our destination.
I play a game with my grandchildren called “I am thinking of something that….” and you describe something using two or three phrases. As I looked at his face in my rearview mirror and saw him staring blankly out the window, I vacillated between two choices: Choice Number One: wanting 20 minutes of silence while listening to the radio or, Choice Number Two: having 20 minutes of interaction which, I knew, would help make the time go faster (for him, anyway!)
As Nana time is limited, I decided to go for Choice Number Two—the 20 minutes of interaction. Our conversation went like this:
Nana: Sean, would you like to play a game?
Sean: Yes! (hmmm…no surprise there)
N: Ok, I am thinking of something that has 4 legs and may have black and white spots and lives on a farm.
S: A cow?
N: Yes—good job. Now your turn.
S: Ok……I am thinking of something that has 2 legs and is white and lives on a farm.
N: Hmmmm… a chicken?
So you get the drift—20 minutes of playing “ I am thinking of something that…” and it could be a house or a flower or an animal or some such. This can quickly become mind-numbing and boring. I am sure you almost dozed off reading the above exchange.
But then….. sometimes….. one can be surprised. It is in these very ordinary “not-big and no-machines-needed” moments you realize the seeds of love have been planted and your heart is touched to its very center.
The magic moment during our “boring” game—was when Sean asked me this question…..
S: “Nana, I am thinking of something that has two legs and it is something you love.”
N: “Hmmmmm…. Is it………..Sean?”
I glanced in my rear-view mirror and saw a small blonde blue-eyed boy—arms waving triumphantly around in the air—and with a voice full of joy…… he yelled out…..
He knows I love him—not only because I tell him—but because of all those dull moments where I truly look into his eyes—where we laugh and connect—and it is during those moments that his soul is filled with the gift of my love.
That is when love is created—not during mountaintop moments—but in the small boring ordinary moments where you see the light and life of the person in front of you—not the glow that comes from a 3×6 handheld screen.
Creating love…. No machines needed….. Just fleeting moments of time.
Don’t waste them.