How was the first week of 2017? Mine was quiet. I abstained from the news. My first car ride for the year was going home from my son’s condo after a night of merrymaking, eating and gawking at the fireworks, and I happily discovered there was no toll on the Skyway. Cheers!
From the 19th floor, the sky looked heavy with smoke after the midnight frenzy. But when I left the building at 2 a.m., it was drizzling and the air had cleaned up a bit—not totally; for that we needed monsoon winds. But we were not too afraid to take a breath.
As I headed out, my son asked if I should go to the bathroom first and I chuckled. Time was when—okay, you know what I am trying to say. Then, as I got in my car, he called out, “seatbelts, Ma.” And of course, I buckled up.
I should be used to this reversal of roles. All six children have assumed that I now need to be reminded, guided and guarded. Even my older grandchildren watch out for lola. Although I think I have my faculties, at least most of them, still about me, it feels good. I feel protected, and yes, also god-awful ancient. I think the young ones call it Jurassic.
Who said that Christmas has to be in December?
Because the man of our house was not home for the holidays, we opened gifts and celebrated with him on Jan. 4.
Our poinsettias barely made it. But everything looked bright and Christmasy all over again.
There was the aroma of roast beef and baked potatoes, yams and marshmallows wafting from the kitchen. It was a festive family gathering as always. The music still touched our hearts and again we missed the absent faces. The excitement was real. So was the mess we made after opening the presents.
‘Wish ko lang’
I asked a few people what they hope to see in 2017. Aside from the obvious wishes for peaceful, prosperous and non-violent times to return, a few were sad sighs for change in family relationships.
One elderly single parent admitted she prays for better communication with her children. Stupidly, I asked, “Why, don’t you talk?” And she replied, “Yes, we text.”
But doesn’t everyone?
That’s the problem.
The breakdown of communication in families has repeatedly been blamed on our phones, pads and tablets. Choose your own culprit. But it is serious.
Apparently even totally dependent iPhone users are beginning to realize these devices can’t bring the warm and fuzzies. They can’t take the place of a hug, nor can they compare to the tender whisper of sweet nothings on a lonely night.
My favorite couple recently went on a dinner date and deliberately left their phones at home. They admitted being a bit antsy. He cracked his knuckles. She asked, “Remember when you used to hold my hand?” He fumbled. They laughed. They talked for hours and rediscovered the joy of conversation.
My granddaughter told me she has spirited away her 4-year-old son’s iPad. After a few difficult nights—more for the parents, I venture to guess— the child has returned to his toys and puzzles and is perfectly content. Success!
My good friend tells me she has a test that has been (sadly) revealing.
“I sit with family members who have eyes only for their LED screens. They try to stay involved in a conversation with me, or they pretend to. I hear a few grunts and some oh’s and ah’s, maybe a chuckle. But they don’t look at me. Then I start to say something and stop in mid-sentence. No one seems to notice, at least to even ask, ‘What were you saying?’”
We have become experts at pretending to be involved. But only our bodies are present. We are not really there.
No one is ever in the moment anymore. What a shame.
I have news for you. That moment never returns. It will never be posted on Facebook. You missed it.
It’s gone, forever.
I came across a video featuring Simon Sinek, 43-year-old author, speaker and consultant who writes on leadership and management.
He speaks about the millennial generation, and touches on today’s addiction to our gadgets. It has created both a bigger following for the renowned optimist/writer and the scorn of a number of millennials.
He calls them “entitled”; their parents told them every day they were special and could have anything they wanted, but they grew up and found out this was not so.
Simon says the use of our phones promotes the release of dopamine, the goal-achieving happy chemical in the brain, which is also released by smoking, drinking and gambling. These vices are restricted for minors. But there are no restrictions on our highly addictive, hi-tech toys.
This made an impact on me. Think about it.
Simon gives what he calls the “Top Ten Rules to Success.” For me the most impressive one is: “Be the last to speak,” a rule he learned from the great world leader Nelson Mandela. Applied to every aspect of everyday life, it is awesome advice.
Simon Sinek is the author of bestsellers “Leaders Eat Last” and “Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration.”
Look him up. This one is worth more than just a Google.