I have great compassion for the kids today – growing up in a world where “time” is so important and there is never enough of it! Have you ever noticed that on those days when you wander aimlessly in nature with no special destination or goal, that time meanders with you – stretching out lazily and luxuriously? But when you are busy and stressed and your day is filled with “tasks”, time slithers away like quicksilver! That sure is my experience of it… The whole passage of that thing we call time seems simply to be an illusion.
My generation were very fortunate as children. We lived before the “Age of Fear” became established. Children are no longer free to roam and explore and discover the world on their own and spend hours each day outside in nature; building “forts”, riding bikes, playing unsupervised by adults. I wonder how that will change the adults of tomorrow? The world is so steeped in fear and controls right now, that it can’t help but feel very different to kids growing up now. Even my kids played much as we did – outside most of the time. It is in the next generations that the “rules” changed.
So many kids today have every hour of their day filled with activities, and their young parents seem to have it no better. What “free” time they have is filled with online activities. Where is the time for “mindlessly” staring at a creek or lying in a field watching the clouds float by – “meditating” in an informal and natural way – practicing mindfulness without knowing the word? Almost always “outside”, we never wanted to be inside. Without ever knowing we were doing it, we were staying connected to the earth – running barefoot all summer long, feeling a part of nature; swimming in streams and lakes, climbing trees, digging tunnels and building “forts”, foraging for wild foods.
Many of us have become so disconnected from the reality of our inter-connectedness with the planet, but perhaps we make up for this by being so much more connected with one another through the internet and social networks. We are also becoming much more open and tolerant of “others” through this human interconnection and that’s a wonderful thing. There is so much more “transparency” now than there was when we were young. So many negative human activities were hidden and not talked about when I was growing up and now, because we are looking at and talking about things more openly, those activities are not “okay” any more.
I am certainly not advocating a return to “the way things were”, simply noticing those really worthy things that from time to time become momentarily lost to us – like eating food free of harmful chemicals, eating together as a family – and playing outside…