Decline of the lawn chair society.

By Mike Aux-Tinee.

As I sit here, my mind is wandering all over the place and I am having a difficult time trying to muster the mental focus, to be creative and to write. I’ve been  staring at the calendar it’s telling me February, still winter. You would not know that because it’s going to hit 64 degrees today. I do wish Mother Nature would stop taunting me and bring on the warmer weather.

It’s during these (somewhat) cold and gloomy days that my focus is not all that, well, focused. I begin to-day dream about so many other things that I wish I could be doing. Once my mind decides on a path of least resistance, I succumb to its siren’s song. It’s like waking up in the middle of the night humming 1980’s new wave music to yourself, you do not know the how or why but you are unable to resist! I start thinking about one thing, I reach the fork in the road and it’s onto the next tangent.

It’s a very easy thing to have happen and once I start, I might as well give up and try not to fight it. So, with that in mind, I am going to take the path of least resistance and let my thoughts wander for a while and write about whatever comes next. Maybe that will solve my current dilemma and help me get over my writers block.

So, back to my little day-dream about warmer weather.

When I think about what I would like to be doing if it was warm out, my thoughts start to take a trip down memory lane. I am propelled back to my childhood and what I would do when it was warm out.

The memories that stand out the most involve visiting my grandparents. I could not wait to see them and once the car stopped and the door opened, I would spring forth like jungle cat ready to pounce! My first instinct was not to hit the front door and burst through to begin my search for them. Instead, I would tear across the yard with reckless abandon, heading  for the gate to the back yard. I knew, if the weather was warm, that’s where I would find them.

Once through the gate I would find my grandparents sitting in their lawn chairs. They would be reading the newspaper, listening to the radio; basically enjoying the nice weather and each other’s company. The only time we would head inside would be to go to the bath room or get something to drink. Once done, we’d head back outside until it was time to go. I recall playing with their dog, chatting with my grandma and grandpa and listening to everyone just talking with each other.

It seemed as if we were always over there and with the number of people coming over, you’d think they were the center of the universe. Of course, to me they were.

On the weekends, we would arrive middle of the afternoon, stay for dinner and then long after sunset. When it was time to leave, my mom would pick me up and toss me in the car. I knew I was coming back so there was no need in making a scene. Plus it was a long day and even pouncing jungle cats need their rest too.

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Gone are the days where we move ourselves off the couch, head outside and socialize with our neighbors. We do not grab our lawn chairs, pull up some grass and chat it up while the kids run around like little maniacs, burning off all of their extra energy.

We can sit and speculate as to why we are losing touch with friends and family. One thing I do know, our relationships are less personal and not as deep as they once were.  

The other day, a coworker tried to argue with me that she had more ‘friends’ than ever before. Of course I asked her, if those friends were on her Facebook page? Of course the answer was, YES! Well, I said, you have contact with more people, but your relationships with those people is not as deep. She started to raise her voice and said, you mean I have superficial relationships? Well, I really inferred that, you just said it. That’s what I would have liked to have said.

Technology is making it easier for people to stay in contact. If you want to reach someone, just text them. Or head over to their Facebook page and check out the latest photos of the family and what they did last weekend, while you were not there.

These things are just tools and should not take the place of the original face book, that being person to person contact. I had a dilemma a while ago. A friend of mine who I have known for a very long time has a really cool dog. I have been friends with this dog since she was a puppy. It had been some time since I was over there and when I went back, the dog initially hesitated when she saw me. She was not sure who I was and if I was a kindred spirit. Well, after using the nick name I would always call her, it was pounce-ville! She was so happy and would not let me out of her sight. That really stuck with me and it hurt.

This is happening to our human relationships too. It is nice to go on-line, text someone or use other social media to maintain contact. And that is the point of the tool, it should be used to maintain contact not as a primary means to maintain your relationship. These tools we have at our disposal are taking over our lives and causing us to become superficial, detached and in possession of meaningless ‘friend’ relationships. This is going to have long-term consequences and our social skills are going to pay the price and further damage our relationships.

In an effort to turn this ship around this year, I am going to dig out the old lawn chair and sit outside more. When a neighbor comes within ear shot, I am going to say hello and invite them over. It is time that I reclaim the things that matter to me and work on strengthening my relationships with those I care about and work on making new friends.

It’s not acceptable anymore to isolate ourselves in our houses, being afraid of what may linger outside in our back yards after dark. We should not let our faces be lit by the glow of the computer screen or television, but that of the sun, moon and stars.

Peace Dudes!

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