Friday, December 10, 2010
The 20th Hour
Today, my mother-in-law mentioned a book she'd seen on the news: The Family Dinner. I've heard of this book, but I've never given it much attention. I figured I got the gist of it, and that was good enough. As she talked about the book, I pulled up the website (the embedded link in the title) and scoped it out. I decided to request it from the library and read it, just for good measure.
While I waited, I became painfully aware that I'm researching family improvement on one of my digital appendages: my laptop. (My cell phone would be my other digital appendage.) How many nights do I sit here on my laptop while Ellie plays, deceiving myself that I'm involved because I'm present? The same is true for my hubby and the television. We seem to feel incomplete if we eliminate this extra level of distraction. Who am I kidding? I feel incomplete if I don't have both the television and laptop going. Is this some twisted need to multitask? I feel bored to the point of pain if I'm driving without holding a phone conversation.
Yet I can be perfectly content, sans phone, sans computer, sans television, if the situation calls for it: camping, nature walking, cloud watching... So maybe I've come to associate being in my house or car with something negative or some need for noise or distraction. Maybe I need to reframe my picture of being home so that that situation calls for going without digital noise.
I watched the movie Eat Pray Love, and the art-of-doing-nothing scene (what Italy's all about) really spoke to me. (Somehow the book just didn't convey the importance of it as clearly to me.) I thought about Italian children, what they're doing while everyone else is doing nothing. I pictured them playing in the yard, making up games, going on adventures, playing chase. These are the sorts of things I used to do while my parents sat in the driveway or backyard with friends and neighbors doing nothing.
Where has this attitude of doing nothing gone? Why can't I just open the back door and let Ellie roam while I fold laundry or read a book or meditate? I've done it before. She roamed the far reaches of our backyard for an hour. She'd never been given that much freedom before, and she opened up to it! Then I let her play with finger paints on the back patio, all by herself. I was just on the other side of the screen, and it was a relaxing afternoon for us both.
Of course, this has nothing to do with the 20th hour, at least not directly, but it does speak to our attitude. It is important that we let go of that need to always be connected to the outside world and the need to constantly bombard our brains so that we don't have to think of something to do or - well - think. So we have the 20th hour. We'll have to - gasp - find something to do together as - another gasp - a family!
Well, the big one is now awake and trying to come through the ceiling, so I'll have to let those thoughts fall where they may.
To the 20th hour!