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Posted By Opening the Heart

"There are 50 ways to leave your lover"...    Paul Simon


   There's a wonderful Lebanese wi-fi cafe right under my office and, sometimes, when I get a cancellation from one of my patients, I go downstairs and order an iced drink and sit outside and read. A few weeks ago, when I went downstairs I saw something that caught my eye. It was a young mom and, I assumed, her two sons, maybe 8 and 6 years old. I hardly noticed it at first because the scene looked pretty normal. What I noticed was that the mom was plugged into her iphone and each of the boys also had a "machine" that they were playing with. Instead of taking my drink outside, I decided to sit inside the cafe where this family was, and I counted. What I counted was the minutes that none of the three of them said a word to each other. It was 11 minutes. And I realized I had no idea how long this had been going on before I came in. And because the arc of my life happened to intersect with theirs in this one place in time, maybe this kind of disconnection had never happened before. But my guess was that it had happened a lot of minutes before.

   Now, I know what you may be thinking: "So what?!" or "Jon, you've got way too much time on your hands", but here's the thing. Just that morning I had been with a couple in my office whose hearts had hardened towards each other for many years and I said to them, as homework, that I wanted them to work on building some resilience and goodwill in their marriage. And I asked them to practice mindful connection with each other by gently touching whenever they passed each other at home; by giving loving appreciation; and by smiling and looking into each other's eyes, every single day.  I told them that each of these acts of kindness would take about 6 seconds....

   So, you see where I'm going with this? I imagined what this young family could do, not with 6 seconds, but with 11 minutes: "Jimmie, how do you feel about going to overnight camp for the first time?"; "Frankie, I'm really sorry for being grumpy this morning, it had nothing to do with you."; "I love how you both were totally there for your little league teams this spring"....

   Don't worry, I am not going to rant about the evils of technology. I really have made peace with this. But I am talking about "Balance". I know machines can be addictive, but they also allow me to hear poets I love reading on Youtube. And I know that technology allows me to share my thoughts with you on this blog.

   I'm going to be a grandfather for the first time in September and I was talking to my daughter and son-in-law, at this very cafe, and they asked me what lessons I wished they would consider in raising this new Being of Light. I thought about it for a long time and I said: 1) Be tougher; and 2) I hope that you teach your new Little One some balance between Machines and People.

               With Love and Respect, Jon        





1 Comment(s):
Peter Watson said...
Jon's reminders are always timely. As an "empty-nester" and web-master for the Opening the Heart Workshop, it is all too easy for me to become lost in my computer, IPad and Droid, forgetting that I am surrounded by loving friends and many who are in need of personal affirmation and support. An action step that I can craft from this reminder is to commit to making at least one positive, personal, "non-technological" connection to a friend, acquaintance or stranger every day for the next week.
July 1, 2012 11:08:12
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