I rode my bike to Wal-Mart yesterday to get a gallon of milk and lunch meat for Will’s lunches. Now, we bought that bike back about 9-10 years ago, and Brielle rides in the same seat that Tyler (now 11) did when he was her size. The basket and lock I use were both given to us last year from a friend from MOPS who was moving to NYC from here and no longer needed it. They are quite handy! I like carrying the basket into the store because I know exactly what will fit into it while I’m shopping. I do wish I didn’t have to go to Wal-Mart (well, I don’t - I could go to Food Lion) but their prices are the lowest for deli meat. I spent a little less than $13 on a gallon of milk, a lb of ham and a lb of turkey. Ironically, the same I spent at the Downtown Market.
Yesterday the temperature was GREAT for a ride! We’d hoped to go sooner, but started baking bread and that requires a “bread-sitting” of sorts. Four o’clock was the busiest time of the day to go, so we ran in and out. It’s amazing how many people flock into Wal-Mart at the same time! Honestly, we were able to maneuver traffic more efficiently on the bike, and the breeze with the sunlight was downright exhilarating on the ride home! Despite the fact that it was more uphill on the way back, I seemed to not notice as much.
Now, I have done these things in the past, but my attitude seemed very different these times around. That may have something to do with the book I just finished: Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology by Eric Brende. In it, a couple moves to a remote “Amish-style” community and live without being connect to the “grid” as they say. It’s AMAZING! Maybe you have to be really fascinated with that sort of thing to love it as much as I did, but I absorbed that book! I really gained heaping mounds of information and realization about things like work ethic, necessities, socialization, and life. Time. Connecting. With nature, with ourselves, with people, and especially with God, the Giving Force of it all. In it he answers the question: How much technology is really necessary for a full and leisurely life?
I think what meant the most to me, that he never really comes out and says, but happens to live, is that we really have choices here. I think a lot of times we just thing “this is the way the world is going, how it is.” And we just accept it! Buy into it! Upgrade for it! Do we even remember it is a choice? It reminds me of when I searched for resources on natural birth. Most people didn’t know there are choices, and many still don’t care. (For example the cashier who thought ultrasounds were mandated by government when I told her I didn't have one.) But what is the cost? In giving ourselves over to the technology throne of making our lives supposedly easier, what price are we paying for just “going with the flow?” How much are we missing of the point? Of life itself?
Yes, I’m typing this on my laptop while my 2 yr old daughter watches a video on Netflix. So obviously, I’m not radically going to drop everything. Even in his book, Brende says that yes, some forms of technology are indeed helpful tools (okay, not netflix!). I am not sure I believe or agree with everything he writes. To be honest his education level far exceeds mine and that become apparent while I was trying to read his book and got lost, having to slow down and deliberately read. Unfortunately, I still didn’t always “get it.” But I got close on most of it. For me, practical implications may not mean extremity or drastic rehabilitation from technological withdrawals!
It may mean just slowing down and taking a look at what matters, what is time consuming, what produces “good” results. And “good” might need a little redefining!
This morning I went for a jog at 6:00am. As I rounded the corner behind the turn that leads to Wal-Mart I passed a couple who were carrying their groceries back home. It’s probably a ¼ mile walk just down that lone stretch. We cheerfully waved and shared our “Good Mornings!” Now, I already know that that kind of encounter is good and I dully note that getting out of the house without a covered contraption such as a car, is definitely a good start! But I’m still looking at the picture as a whole, and also at the little things that consume and consummate the “good life.” It’s going to take me a while to think on and process these things.
But like the Clarksville Downtown Market: It's a good start! And it's worth taking the time for.