Blessed and Idle

Seems like I have been spending a lot of time fiddling with gadgets lately. Game devices, mp3 players, laptops, all the info- and enter-tainment infrastructure of our household. There is much negotiation and wrangling over the newly-minted currency of who gets access to what screens in our family. These negotiations are complicated by the gadgets’ various states of operation and disrepair. Lots of fidgeting with cords, chargers, controllers, and other detritus which must be wrangled like wayward sheep. Every little gadget commands a debt of time and mental energy to keep it working and in or out of the proper hands at the proper time.

Fantasies of “unplugging” have been coming to me fairly frequently lately. Getting rid of cable TV. Mothballing some of my gadgets. Drastically reducing my footprint on social sites like Facebook, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Luddite. I feel the lure of the latest unobtanium too. When the iPad came out I was all “Ooooohh, Shiny!” on the inside. And I have a fleeting bout of SmartPhone Envy about every other day.

But really I enjoyed Peter Bregman’s confession in Harvard Business Review — Why I Returned My iPad — and admired his honesty in front of what has to be the most plugged-in audiences in the world. I concur, Peter. I’m glad I did not get an iPhone or iPad or iAnything for my recent birthday. My life is such that I have very few “idle and blessed” moments too. The last thing I need is another gadget to fill the idle moments I do have. Even though I admit it is teh cool and sports mesmerizing blinkenlights.

I’ve talked about the useful, instructive nature of boredom before. And my kids roll their eyes when I tell them that boredom is good. I know it’s good to be unprogrammed and unplugged for a healthy dose each day. But I find, especially lately, that I am not taking my own prescriptions.

Poetry, reading, art, and useless idle writing (like the kind I’ve been doing a lot less lately on this site) are the casualties of my latest case of gadgetalia fixation. My feeling that I might be “missing something” if I unplug for even a day tempts me to profane the sacred idle moments my soul needs.

The antidote, for me, is Mary Oliver’s poetry and maybe a chance to be “blessed and idle” in adoration tonight.

From the Summers Day by Mary Oliver
“I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

So here’s wishing you (and me) a very healthy dose of boredom real soon.