It’s 3:17 pm on a cold Friday in England.
As I approach the school hundreds of children dressed in black flood out from the old school gates supported by the two huge old stone pillars. It looks like a mass of ants on the march as they all move in on mass in one direction towards me.
Most have on thing in common, that is the moment they leave the gates they reach into their pockets and pull out their phones. Most have their face tilted down towards the floor but are staring into their small black mirrors.
Some talk and share what they are looking at. Most just stare and scroll and scroll and stare as they like a man getting off his flight immediately reaches for his cigarettes they reach for their phones.
At the corner, one boy has stopped. He is with a friend but the friend is on his phone. The friend on the phone is telling his friend that stopped to get a move on. The boy that stopped is standing still staring into a small tree. On the small tree is a squirrel stealing nuts from the bird feeder. The birds are still feeding. Now and then the squirrel tries to scare away the birds but the birds simply keep flying to the back of the feeder where they squirrel can’t reach them or see them. The boy watching them just starts and keeps telling his friend to look at this tiny but spell-binding moment in nature.
The boy talks non-stop whilst his friend stares into his phone and moans about their lack of progress. Once the traffics light to change to green I walk away from the boys to the other side of the road. Once at the other side, the boy on the phone has begun to walk away whilst the boy watching the squirrel appears to be hypnotised by a small moment in nature taking place before him.
I walk another hundreds yeard and turn around once more to see if the boy has gone. Yes, he has as he runs down the road to meet his pal and excitedly share the experience of nature and conflict in miniature as the birds, the squirrel fight.
I had been for a coffee. I love a coffee in the morning before I do anything and I love to have my coffee outside my house where I can feel life around me. Outside the coffee shop sits a couple with a son. The boy is around 12-14yrs of age. His parents look in their early forties. The boy is staring at an iPad. I can see the game or video he is watching from here. His parents are both on their phones. Both are moving nothing apart from their thumbs.
The rest of their external appearance is absolutely dead still. The only movement id their hair that is moving slightly in the cold winter breeze just sweeping along the street and over the coffee drinkers tables. Interesting that none have yet had a taste of their drink despite sitting on their screens for at least 10-minutes.
As I looked up and look down the street everyone including cars drivers are on phones as they come towards me.
Today is the most beautiful day. The sun shines in a cold winter sky. It has created a rainbow-like haze as it tries to burst through and begin to melt the frost. The birds are noisy especially the magpies. They gather on large groups whilst socialising and looking for their next meal. Squirrels are abundant here. Not one, not two but at least a dozen from where I am sitting. Some you can only see if you sit still for a moment but you have to be still and wait for the moment when your eye is activated by the slightest movement regardless of the distance.
A child stops to try and jump on the ice. His mother holds his hand as he jumps once, twice and once again until the first crack appears. And the man with walks past this café every day with his golden Labrador and his black Labrador without a leash and despite it being a busy road.
Has the rise of the computer disengaged our young ones (and others)? They walk and miss the small things in life that give the big lessons in life. The awareness of the environment has been replaced by the 15-30 second video, walking entertainment but even more serious the lack of use and underuse of the bodies senses.
Humans never change yet habits can be changed without realising habits have been changed. Yet is something far more insidious taking place here?
Entertainment has its place yet entertainment is life itself. A photo on social media as well as a video can be a deception. A 15-second video projecting itself as happiness can never replace a 24-hour day. Once the video is watched and the high has passed a need for another video is then asked by the body – once addicted and disengaged from reality.
Once the body is disengaged it has to be forcibly re-engaged if an enhanced life is desired. In a world where we are surrounded not just by the daily activities of natures itself but we are also be ing given lessons by nature and life.
The boy watching the squirrel teaches us that we need to stop to be engaged by life. This engagement makes us a stronger human being by activating sense and powers we are layering over with disengaged moments.
The change of weather from warm to freezing teaches us the forces of nature and the power of nature. It also reminds us its nature is so powerful we are also part of nature and have more power than we can imagine.
The child trying to break through the ice is teaching us that life is intuitive and does have fun. Why does the child want to break the ice? There is no reason apart from the child feels an urge to jump up and down and break that ice. This teaches us we need to have fun, we should do things that don’t make sense so we are activated and engaged.
The squirrels high up in the trees are teaching us patience and awareness. Staring into a black mirror removes all sense of realities aware moments. Yet the small animal is teaching us that if we want to see him we need to be patient. Patience is a gift from life that isn’t about waiting but it is about self-control in an overindulged word that has been created by those that actually want more control over the human for the sakes of selling more.
The more we are hooked on computers and phones the more screen time we deliver to those selling online.
But even worse, the massive, monstrous rise in teen depression can be directly linked an unaware addiction that disengages not just the mind, not just the eyes, not just the attention but the human itself.
To have a happy and filled life that we deserve we must have an amount of control that engages out sense every day.
The smartphone creates a dumb mind.
The brilliant law of nature creates engaged humans as we saw from the small boy at the start of this article.
Alan Forrest Smith