Last year, Hubs and I went on a vacation to Mexico. We try to do vacations on our own at least once a year. I’m a travel fiend, and I also think it’s good for a marriage to have time to reconnect with each other without children being present.
We drove to a Cenote one day to rappel into (scariest but most amazing day of my life), and on the way back to the resort we drove through some small Mexican villages.
Descending into the Cenote
Our tour guide said, “I know you look at this and see poverty. I know you look at this and feel sorry for these people. Please don’t. This is the way they live. They have a simple way of life, and they are happy. They have everything they need: food, shelter, water, and love.” In essence, those people who look to us like they have nothing actually have their priorities straight.
We have gotten a lot of things wrong in the United States over the last few decades. We have also gotten a lot of things right. I love our country but sometimes I think we tend to focus on the unimportant things. To feel fulfilled and nurtured, we need social connection.
Lately, I feel like I’ve been failing at life. But, honestly, I think it’s our way of life that is failing me. It’s not meeting my needs. It’s making me feel far away from people. It’s literally making me lonely. I think we all need to step back and take a good, hard look at our lives and realize what’s really important in the end: love and family. Because we shouldn’t only feel connected to one another on vacation.
iPhones were invented as a way to help people connect socially, but they achieved the exact opposite. Now, we use our iPhones to shut one another out. How many people do you see every day walking around staring at a screen instead of what’s around them? I do this too. I come home from work every day, and my children are glued to their screens. We make them put them down for dinner, and lately, only because I needed and wanted a change in our family dynamic I’ve been doing other things with them at night to show them my love. Children thrive off of attention. When they don’t get it, they turn to electronics thinking it will feed their deep biological need for love and nurturing BUT IT DOESN’T! Our families feel further apart than ever as we partake in technology, loving our electronics more than the living breathing people who should feel like they are the most important part of our lives.
And schedules. Work has become the driving force of America. That’s what happens in a capitalist economy where everything revolves around how many THINGS one person can buy. No thing will make you happy. People, with their cellphones, can now be reached 24 hours a day. They don’t know how to put their work away and truly relax. They are always available. This creates needless stress to them and to their families. Because while they might be available to work they are not emotionally available at home. It’s very hard to maintain a true presence while having one foot in the work-world and one foot in the domestic-world. Neither gets your full attention. Mistakes are made at work, and at home families suffer from lack of enough quality time with one another.
Parents, including me, over-schedule their kids and run ourselves ragged trying to get them everywhere, even as they juggle a job and their own social life.
Yesterday, I took Darling Daughter to OT at 2 PM (feeling bad I was missing work–trapped between two worlds that demand so much of me), came home for about an hour, did homework with the kids, took Son Number One to tutoring, and then met Hubby at the soccer field to pick up Son Number Two and Darling Daughter so we could eat and see a friend play. I didn’t get home until 9 PM, and by that time I was so riled up that I’d made myself angry. I shouted at my Hubby because I over-scheduled my day and felt worn ragged.
I wonder what kind of effect our always-on-the-go-no-down-time lifestyle is having on our kids. There’s no time to sit and reflect on life. Kids are bored without electronics. They need to be constantly entertained and so many of them don’t know how to have a real-life conversation unless they’re doing it through FaceTime. It’s no wonder people feel isolated and alone. It’s no wonder mental illness is on the rise.
We can learn something from that small Mexican village. What’s most important in life is meeting basic needs and LOVE. We are social creatures, and we thrive off of interaction with each other. Babies have failure to thrive if they are not treated with love, touched, hugged, and cared for. Why is it so hard for us to understand this lesson and bring it into our Western way of life?
When was the last time you stopped and enjoyed the little things? When was the last time you looked up from your phone to experience a moment of awe (the sun rising, the moon glowing, the waves crashing on the beach?)? When was the last time you sat down with your family, put away all the electronics, and really enjoyed one another?
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