Stop and Smell the Roses

I wrote this note to Katrina Kenison, author of The Gift of an Ordinary Day, which I include here as a reminder to myself and others to slow down, look around, breathe deeply, and relish…

I just finished “The Gift of an Ordinary Day” on my wife’s recommendation, and I felt compelled to reach out to you. I may not fit your typical reader profile. I’m a business owner and father of two: nine-year old girl, six-year old boy. I like to watch football, drink beer, etc. BUT, since my wife commutes and I work from a home office, I’ve become a working-from-home dad and house husband, very much involved in my kids’ lives, and hyper conscious of the short amount of time we will share before they, too, leave the nest for their respective life adventures.

Your spiritual journey and devotion to living in the present, your appreciation of life’s small details, your desire to slow down, and your connection to the earth, all struck a chord. My mother and you seem cut from the same cloth. Despite shouldering the burden of being a financial provider, raising three boys, and caring for a sick husband simultaneously, her philosophy of avid listening, long conversations, lingering over a cup of tea, stopping to smell the roses, are deeply instilled in me.

If my wife were up for the change (she’s definitely not!), I’d have us out of our comfortable (but stressful!) suburb and somewhere along the Flathead River in Montana, off the grid, living a fantasized bliss not unlike your own.

I shed a good amount of tears over your family’s journey, mostly tears of joy as I witnessed Henry’s flowering into an accomplished and independent young man, and tears of melancholy pondering the simpler lives we once led before the Internet, email, text messaging, Tweeting, Facebooking, and whatever other accelerated forms of distraction became the norm of our existence.

Thank you for sharing yourself with the world. I am inspired by you to pay even better attention to all of the little miracles around us and soak them in so they can be relished down the road.

And, while we’re on the topic of stopping, smelling, and connecting, is it me, or is this notion of quality time, connection through disconnection, self-removal from the crowd, unplugging… gaining traction?

William PowersHamlet’s BlackBerry, thoughtfully discusses the value of screen time vs. down time and how various philosophers, writers, and historical figures sought balance between the two.

Just today, I found Paul Barnwell’s essay “Turned Off” in the Winter 2011 edition of Middlebury Magazine especially timely, where he describes his devotion to balancing digital living and “hard” skills. He ends with:

“We are all too quick to embrace the latest software development or gadget as if it is unequivocally necessary for human survival, happiness, and productivity. I love many technological applications in my personal and professional life. But I worry that too much technology and an overzealous approach to its mere existence will somehow distract us from hard skills and satisfying aspects of humanity that have persisted for thousands of years.”

Ironically, as I stare at my computer screen while linking this over here to that over there, embedding YouTube videos, and Googling uncertainties, I believe these folks are on to something.

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