Today was a beautiful fall day and I spent some of it outside blowing bubbles with a two-year-old. I would blow the bubbles and he would chase them and try to catch them – giggling with delight the whole time. As I blew the bubbles again and again, I couldn’t help but reflect on the simplicity of that exercise. All it took was some liquid soap, a plastic bubble blower, and my own hot air. With those three simple ingredients, countless beautiful spheres were brought into being. They danced in the wind, reflecting small rainbows of light, until they floated off into the distance or were crushed by a young child’s eager hands.
It was one of those simple moments that are so easy to miss. I know that there were things I would have rather been doing. “Blowing bubbles” certainly wasn’t on my to-do list for today. And yet, I took the time to do it because a child wanted to and was richly rewarded.
Life is so busy today. It seems like there is always something to be done. Technology has made our lives easier but, as a result of those same innovations, our lives move at a much quicker pace. We are more productive than we have ever been, but the technology that was supposed to make our lives easier was also intended to give us more time. Time to do what? Enjoy the simple pleasures of life – spend time with our families and friends, go for a walk, work in the garden, enjoy a hobby, appreciate the gifts of God’s creation, etc.
Unfortunately, that is often not the case. Instead, we frequently use the “extra” time that technology saves us to interact with more technology. We surf the net, or watch television, or spend more time working just because we can and because there is always one more thing to be done. We frequently spend more time interacting with screens than we do interacting with real people or the world outside our front door.
I am not anti-technology – not at all. I’m blessed to be able to work from home because of it. I love that I can find the answer to almost any question my children might have when we are homeschooling with a few keystrokes. I enjoy connecting with my friends and work colleagues via social networks. Technology has opened up a world of possibility that simply didn’t exist a few years ago.
But, there needs to be a balance. We need to remember what is important and what is lasting in this world. Technology is a tool, but it is supposed to work for us, not the other way around. We need to unplug and take the time to appreciate the simple things, to play with a child, to smell a flower, to thank God for a beautiful sunset, or to marvel at dancing bubbles. The world is full of beauty – much of it fleeting. Children grow quickly, flowers bloom for only a brief period of time, sunrises and sunsets last mere moments. Our chances to value them are just as fleeting. We need to make a concerted effort to embrace at least some of those chances.
Copyright 2011 Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur