A Surprising Shift
I’m at my daughter’s house sitting in the sun on Sunday afternoon. A comfortable, lazy time: no one is going anywhere; no one is in a rush.
My favorite dog in the world, a black and tan Norwich terrier called Cameron, is on my lap and I am sprawled on a very cushiony chaise in the shade with a pillow behind my back. My daughter is near me in the shade as well, flipping casually through the latest copy of Real Simple Magazine. The sun is warm, the light breeze utterly benign.
The garden looks green and lush. Tall Connecticut trees--maples, dogwood, oaks and white pine--some of them hundreds of years old, I’ll wager--frame the yard, which is irregularly edged in the foreground by rhododendron, hydrangeas budding out madly and other low bushes unknown to me. There is a cared-for casualness about the planting in my daughter’s yard that feels as comfortable and easy as the deep cushion at my back.
My three, twenty-something, grandsons are with us: shirtless, in shorts and bare feet, drinking an assortment of iced coffees, teas, and sodas as they spread themselves out on wicker furniture in the sun. Unlike my daughter and me, they can get as tan as they want.
The youngest of the boys holds the family’s second Norwich between his legs and rubs her back. All these guys have graduated from college and have jobs in New York. But right now they are just hanging out.
My grand daughter, their fifteen-year-old sister, isn’t with us. She has gone sailing with some friends for the afternoon.
“Sailing?” my middle grandson—I’m going to call him Tim-- inquires.
My daughter responds. “Yes, with her friends, the Smiths. They have a boat in Norwalk.”
Tim brushes at his thick, dark hair with his hand and slings his leg over the side of the chair. “I bet she took her cell phone. Did she, Mom?” He presses.
“I don’t know. I suppose so.”
“Girls!” Tim says, sitting up straight now. “They have to take their cell phones everywhere! They can’t be without their friends for two minutes!”
I am surprised by his vehemence. Tim, with the lovely, steady girlfriend and the great job, I think of as very much of his generation: a cell phone always in his pocket. Tweet. Twitter. Whatever.
Something has changed.
What is going on? I wonder. What unexpected awakening is this?
“Are you saying, Tim,” I ask, “that being on the cell phone all the time, checking for calls means that your attention is fractured? That you can’t really be where you are? You are not actually with whomever you are with?” (A bit much, I realize, but I can’t help seizing the moment.)
“That’s exactly what I mean, G-Ma! People will go to the Fourth of July fireworks this year and stand in the dark with the fireworks blazing away in the sky and--he holds his own phone high and looks into it—they’ll be watching those fireworks on their cell phones!"
“I write blogs about stuff like that,” I say, wanting him to know that I get it.
Tim grins broadly, revealing straight white teeth. “Good, G-Ma!” He says emphatically. “Don’t stop!”
Written for Unleash Potential by Cecily Stranahan, our companion on this journey of reflection and self-discovery. Visit Cecily's Blog at LifeOpeningUp.blogspot.com