*This was the BBC radio introduction that was used during the Second World War. Personally, I tie this to a sentiment that I need to go back…
Not quite summer’s end, not really autumn yet, but the cusp that enjoins these 2 seasons is before us. I love this time of year.
Naumkeag is an incredible place because it allows me to dwell on and feel connected to matters taken for granted. There’s time and space to slow down, to think, to feel, to recognize that not all issues, concerns or problems are of utmost importance above anything or anyone else. Naumkeag is a sanctuary where the main characters are pastoral. The lead character has to be the quiet, the kind of quiet that tells us there is catharsis in solitude for the benefit of oneself.
There are many distractions, including things that are not here. Out of sight—out of mind: no tablets, no MP3 players, no traffic sounds be they from land or air. Space is one of several pleasant distractions, especially those spaces that encourage you to become part of the setting.
We have met the enemy and they are us. Circa 1960s: Walt Kelly from his comic strip, Pogo, in reference to the US involvement in Vietnam. The phrase is a variation from Naval Commander Oliver Hazard Perry whom, in the late 1790s said, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”
Our sociological positions on culture, tolerance, honest communication, integrity, decorum and humility have fallen to new lows. Some of us—in particular those with the loudest and most obstinate of postures and voices—have created as well as promoted an intractable reality that has altered our ability and willingness to freely express our thoughts and feelings across many subjects.
Fueled by emotion, group think, individual perceptions and more, it’s become de rigueur to put someone down [shouting, shaming, name calling, e.g.] just to make a point. What concerns me is while someone can possibly make a point, the counterpoint is summarily dismissed. Its dismissal is total, a product of a scorched earth mentality that leaves no room for perspective, for critical thinking and even a chance, however small, to understand the meaning of the counterpoint let alone the person or persons expressing the counterpoint.
We not only agree to disagree, but we do so in disagreeable fashion. We create diatribe instead of discussion, insults in lieu of perspectives, bombast as proper elocution.
I leave you to ponder on William Faulkner:
“I believe that humankind will not merely endure: we will prevail. We are immortal, not because we alone among creatures have an inexhaustible voice, but because we possess a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.”
During a recent trip to Old Sturbridge Village, I came upon this roped-off exhibit of a beautiful, portable, writing desk with written pages fanned across its top. I imagined how the owner and writer of those materials may have looked like. This gentleman seemed to fit the bill.
I can appreciate the time and effort it takes to hand-write many things. I’m at odds with my peers, being one who cherishes writing [letters, journaling, e.g.] with a fountain pen no less. It does require your attention. The efficiency of computers is a boon to creating content, from tweets to long essays and dissertations. The use of all types of computers is standard for our developed societies.
But why do we need to process things so quickly? It’s a rhetorical question, certainly, but not without practical considerations. We marvel at how fast technology processes both the simple and the very complex. However, you lose [at least for me] that joie de vivre of the moment. Being attentive in the moment is quite different from being momentarily attentive.
And I see too much of this momentary attentiveness in many. How so? In a restaurant, you can see some couples more attentive to their smart phones than each other. In parks, in museums, in the lobbies of theatres, offices and yes, even in our cars, the siren of that handheld is overwhelming. The device in our hand responds quickly, in “real” time, then with a thumb stroke, we’re onto another screen for something else.
For me though, I feel better connected when I’m engaged with just about any process that requires a bit more attention, time and effort. Yes, I admit an app can make things easier and interesting. But for me, the process of being engaged and attentive to tasks and to processing information just isn’t the same when a person is with me.