BY JBH

07.15.2014

We All Need to Unplug: Here’s Why

Janell Burley Hofmann, July 15, 2014
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Like you, we are busy. We have sports commitments and scheduled appointments, book reports and birthday parties, chore charts and calendars bubbling over with all that must be done.

If you took a snap shot of my life, I am in my parenting prime. The stride of life that feels so permanent it could last for ever, but in reality is so fleeting, that I’m scared to blink. My boy is about to enter the halls of high school, my baby girl skips onto the school bus. My middle three cram math facts and bike rides into their afternoons and showers and vegetables make them wrestle in resistance each night. I try to hold it all, but it slips through, each day faster than the last.

Recently, on a warm afternoon, I scooped my girls from school and hustled them into bathing suits for the first outdoor swim of the season. I sat — unplugged, without a book or a friend — in a chair alone on the shore. They danced and sang and splashed. Each time their skin felt the cool breeze, they dove back under water cradled in warm relief. I tried to be an invisible observer, silently watching as the daylight started to dim. They came to the sand, organizing themselves in an urgent plan to build and construct and create with the few plastic shovels and pails we dragged along. They were deliberate in their delegations, focused in their orders, serious about their structures. And then it happened, as it does to me often, I am hit with a moment of fierce clarity.

I think of all the readers and responders, who have asked me “What is your message about the technology? Why does it matter if they game and go online in abundance, don’t you know, it’s just time to evolve?” What is the point?” I want to stand up, on this day, on this shore. And even though I’m alone, I want to yell, I want to be heard, because today it is the only answer I know for certain: THIS IS THE POINT!

Watching the sun set against our children’s backs while they squeal in delight and dig in the earth and look into each other’s eyes and figure out how to stop those damn waves from crashing down their tower — is the point.

And we forget that sometimes, because we are upgrading and editing, texting and tweeting, scrolling and scanning. And that’s ok. I forget sometimes too. But if you can stay still long enough to let that lightning bolt of life hit you square in the chest, begging you to be present, asking you to witness all that unfolds in front of you, please, show up. Come, with your eyes up and your heart open. Underneath all that you need to be everyday, is the deepest, most powerful wisdom. Do not forget what you know — all the ways we must be alive and witness the living. This is the only point.

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