I was just e-mailing my two sisters about getting together this spring and already everybody is so busy it will be at least the end of June before we can have a “sister” day. It made me realize how, in spite of all the conveniences we have today, people seem to be busier than ever. Back in the “old days,” when men and women both did so many more chores by hand, and when we had to sit down and write letters rather than send quick texts or e-mails, and when we had to travel to visit someone rather than blog or twitter or visit on Facebook – we were so “physically” busy – and yet there was time for friends and family. There were more get-togethers, neighbors visiting neighbors, and families sitting down to a table together for their meals. There was “human contact,” as opposed to sending pictures out on Facebook or on an i-phone. The internet world has intruded on life, as has the world as a whole, barging its way into our nation, our state, our cities, our small communities, our businesses, our jobs, our schools, our families and our homes. Neighbors don’t even know their neighbors any more, people stand in the aisle at the grocery store not looking or speaking to each other, people become enraged on the highway because they are always in a hurry, family members quickly visit through texting or Facebook, no one rides together in the car any more. Most children old enough to drive have their own cars, dad has his own car, mom has her own car, and everyone is so busy running all over the place that families end up passing each other in the night as they walk down the hallway to use the bathroom. There is no such thing as everyone sitting down to breakfast together because everybody has a different place to go and a different time they have to be there.
It’s the same in the evening – everyone getting home at different times, often each member making their own meal in a microwave or picking up take-out and eating it on a tray in front of the TV, yet another instrument that interrupts normal family life. No one talks any more, and we plan our calendars so far ahead that we are always living for “tomorrow” or “next week” or even “next fall” or “next year.”
What about TODAY? In reality, today is all we have, and even that could be taken from us at any time and at any age. How sad that more people don’t stop to think about that. How many times do people weep over someone’s death because they feel so guilty that they didn’t spend more time with them, or cry over the death of a family member whom they realize they didn’t even truly know because they seldom talked? How many days go by without us truly hearing the birds or smelling the flowers or playing outside with our children or grandchildren or just sitting down together and TALKING? How many times do we ignore the plea of a small child to “play with me” or “take me fishing?” Our answer too often is, “Maybe tomorrow.”
We don’t know if we even have tomorrow. That’s not our decision to make.
Something has been lost in this busy world of ours. I don’t have the answers for how to get it back. Maybe it’s simply taking one day a week in which the family decides there will be no TV, that cell phones and computers will be turned off, and everyone will sit down to a meal and share their thoughts and concerns. It sounds like a good idea, but then again, just try finding a day when everyone is able to get together at the same time. I can hear it now – “I can’t do it Tuesday – maybe Wednesday.” “But I can’t do it Wednesday. Monday would work better for me.” “But Monday is your dad’s golf day. What about Thursday?” “No way! Thursday is football practice.” “Well, Friday is certainly out. That’s mom and dad’s night out.” “The weekend? Impossible! There is yard work and the kids are going to the movies. Sundays are our day to either go to church or lie around all day watching movies and reading the Sunday paper.”
And so it never happens. It can only happen if we really TRY and make a commitment to what is really important in life. Oh, but all those “other” things are so important. And how are we supposed to get through the day without the computer and our cell phones?
There was a time when people DID get by without those things, and they were often happier and healthier and closer than most families are today.
Stop and listen to the birds. Smell the flowers. Think about all your blessings and remember that you are here only at God’s mercy. Enjoy your time on earth, and enjoy your family and the sunshine and the fact that you are breathing at all … and that you can function just fine without the world at your doorstep via the internet. And try figuring out why, in today’s time when everything is so quick and convenient, we still don’t have “time” for what’s most important in our lives.
I wish the whole world would just take a deep breath and relax, that the whole world would pick one day a week when no one can get on the internet or their cell phones, when there is no disturbing news on TV about another horrible shooting spree or a mother suing her own son or someone telling us we can’t pledge to our own flag or worship our own way. I want the world to stay out of my life and the lives of my family, but that can never happen now. There is no going back, so we have to make time ourselves for what is important and do what we can to keep families and neighbors close and learn to enjoy our very short time here on earth. Don’t let it slip past you. Fifty years ago can seem like only a couple of years ago, even a couple of weeks ago. That’s how fast it goes. Grab on and slow it down any way you can.
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Publishers Weekly Review
"This Western historical is chock-full of danger, with families set on a vendetta, the threat of Emma’s stepfather, and the daily demands of Mitch’s job, but Emma is no wilting lily, proving she is a match for Mitch in every way."
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