Although May opened with an exceptionally lovely day yesterday, I still built a fire, and we had a visible frost this morning. Even now, I love the fresh chill in the air, truth be told. Maine is the place for me.
This weekend has been another first in this new world of no children in the home. J is away on a canoe trip, and I've been alone in the house for several days - for the first time in 17 years. There was one other weekend since motherhood when it happened. J took a year off while I went to school full time, and one weekend he took the four kids off on a trip while I stayed home to study.
Pretty astonishing that I haven't been in that situation more often, but there it is. The only time it really strikes me is at night, but the dogs are very companionable, and it has been okay.
It is interesting in the context of an email exchange amongst our family yesterday, about technology and togetherness. It sprang from an article: (Quality Time - Redefined). The debate continues about just how detrimental our perpetually plugged in society is to interpersonal relationships Although I recognize many merits in the information stream available to us, and I even see how it aids connections between people who are far away from each other geographically, I think it is a pernicious crutch in many other ways.
First - we forget how to be alone. Without any human presence, people tend to panic. They turn on a TV, make a phone call, get on email or the internet. As a result, there are parts of our brain that are lying fallow - those creative, innovative, inventive parts that find something to do with idle time.
Second - we forget how to be together. Yes, in many ways it can be far more peaceful to sit in companionship with one's family as each takes part in his or her personal electronic experience. There are moments of pleasant sharing. "Cool! I got 1000 points!" "Wow - look at this picture!" But that is a watered-down version of togetherness, the effortless kind. We figure each other out far more effectively, even if it hurts a little, by working through a conversation, or a card game, or one of those excruciating board game battles (that reveals a bit our own family style, I confess).
Third - this is a world of trees and dirt and rocks and other animals. If we never stub our toe on a rock, or scrape our arms climbing a tree, or get muddy on a leafy hill, or pick up a frog from a pond, or feel cold in the winter or hot and sweaty in the summer grass, or hear the long, uninterrupted orchestra of wind in trees and singing birds for a full hour -- then we have forgotten how to live in the world that we live in. That feels like a dangerous skill to lose.
**extra note - just read the news of Bin Laden's death, and I feel obliged to make mention of it. It is a strangely unsettling feeling to experience such a rush of...joy? relief? satisfaction?...upon hearing of someone's death. Nevertheless, he was a living representation of the worst kind of fear and hatred. I hope his death will mean some diminishment in those insidious poisons in the world. I was grateful and proud of our nation's dignity when I read that his body is being treated with the respect proscribed by his religion.