Once upon a time there was not a care in the world. The most that had to be done was to be out of the house before my mom got the slightest inclination that I was bored, (she had a knack for finding chores that needed to be done around the house). Us kids would dig our way to china, climb walls, play hide and seek and ride our bikes all around town. We would end up at the house for lunch occasionally but for the most part knew to be home in time for dinner. The only change in this routine was when school was in session and that took up most of our days. There wasn’t a thing of social media and so when something stupid was said or done it was spread through the friend group but no further, and it usually took hours to spread vs. seconds. When someone was challenged to do something there wasn’t a video of it to upload, instead it was bragging rights told to anyone who would listen which usually just meant the siblings.
Once upon a time, life wasn’t any easier than it is today, but it was simpler. I feel as if I am a grandma talking to her grandchildren, but am instead a mom who is watching her kids grow up in a era in which everything is recorded and noticed and judged within seconds of something happening. Phones are in pockets and the fun thing to do is to see how long you can make a spam call last when they are asking a 14 year old about their car’s extended warranty. A friend once told me she felt lost when she would forget her phone at home and I remember feeling a sense of relief when empathizing with her as I thought about the freedom that held for me. I use my phone so much for work, and for life that when I chose to leave it back on it’s charger there is a sense of freedom, and yes even joy in knowing I don’t have to pay attention to it. It’s as if I am unlocking myself from it.
Once upon a time, can be now. Life isn’t going going to be easier but it can be made simpler. I have talked over the last couple of years about how dogs and cats have it figured out. They wake up, they eat/drink and do their business outside or in the litter pan. They play with their people or in the case of the cat ignore their people and then they find a good place to sleep. They live simple lives for the most part. We can follow their example in finding the simple. Just because we are “told” how our lives should be lived doesn’t mean we have to obey. We can chose to turn off the busy, but it’s a choice that has to be set as a priority. A couple of years ago I worked two part time jobs which meant I had Sundays off only. I started to tell friends and family that I would have my phone off. It was going to be my day. I would spend it how I wanted but there was not going to be outside influences allowed in. That was the start of the mindset of simpler times. I didn’t want a “once upon a time” storyline that talked about loosing myself in the busy.
When when my kids look back on their “once upon a time” they will talk about the social media influences, the anxieties that are becoming a common place thing, but I hope they will also talk about the simple days in which they played outside, road their bikes, played with the dogs in the back yard and went to the library for actual books. I hope they talk about the silly board games we played together as a family and the fact that when they did see something funny on YouTube that they were able to share it with their parents because their parents saw the importance of valued times with their kids. Now more than ever we have to chose to have simpler times. A good friend of mine gets out the markers and colored pencils after work to unwind from the day. Another friend is so creative with making cards. My best friend raises chickens and even tried out turkeys this year with her girls. It won’t matter years down the road how busy you were, what will matter is what you did with your time. Did you find joy in what you chose to spend your time on? Was there personal growth, family love, and time to smell the sunflowers? Once upon a time shouldn’t just be limited to fairytales. Until next time I want to share this quote that a friend shared with me:
And every day the world will drag you by the hand yelling: “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this! And this!”
And each day it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.”Iain Thomas