As many of you know, my wife Darlene and I spend significant time at our cottage in Saskatchewan. Crystal Lake is very precious to us but for me it is very personal in that I spent my summers here for most of my childhood and I know how fortunate that makes me. Anyone who has had the good fortune of a special summer place can relate but I refer to this not to boast. Out here, we do have a landline phone as we can’t get reliable cell phone coverage (more on that in a bit), we have a satellite dish for television, we have high speed internet from a cell tower (different company than our mobile service) and heck, we even have indoor plumbing!! Today is a Monday half way through July and I haven’t written a blog for over a month. First because I was crazy busy on the road and second, ’cause we came out here. I haven’t checked my Email since Friday (we had company) and I just diddled on the other social media sites because I have to rather than want to. That may seem amazing to many of you but those that live in my world get it. Today’s connectivity is a modern necessity but the trap it sets catches way too many people and if you are one of them, you have probably just rolled your eyes and sighed calling me an old fart who obviously doesn’t get it! Actually, and with my usual respect, I don’t think you get it!
Just yesterday, my wife, who walks one dog over 5 km every morning (the other can’t go that far after two knee surgeries) and yesterday, saw two teens out walking (shocking) with their hands and arms up in the air like one might do on a roller coaster but they were clearly searching for a signal as Darlene passed them , they had their mobiles with them trying desperately to connect with presumably the very lucky friends whose families had not forced their kids to leave the city for a remote place in the middle of nowhere where there is obviously “Nothing To Do!” Keep in mind, I love young people. I spoke to over 75,000 of them this year alone. I also understand they have been raised with technology…yada, yada, yada! But I am not writing this entry to “rag on these kids nowadays!” I am also not “reminiscing and mourning for the good old days”. I am writing this to remind everyone that no matter our age, our history or our present circumstance, people are not devices like so many believe they can’t live without. Devices have no heart, no soul and no spiritual compass. In fact, I believe defvices are stealing the very nature of what makes us human.
This summer, we left Calgary just as the tragic flooding altered hundreds of thousands of people’s reality. Our home was spared any damage as were the majority of people we know. As much as my family feels very blessed we were not affected, part of me feels guilty for not being home to help even though I mostly suck at physical tasks. But I have felt heartened by the stories of all the volunteers who have in so many cases just “showed up”to help people they don’t even know and much of the work has been significantly more than just a couple of hours of volunteering just to do our little bit to help so we don’t feel too guilty for doing nothing. The work has been days, not hours and much of it has been less than glamourous. But what I have noticed is in not one media image is anyone standing around with their hands and arms up in the air looking for a cell phone signal, nor their necks and heads bent down sending or recieving the critical text messages that so mamy nieve people belive they must attend to immediately as if they are a neurosurgeon waiting for an alert of emergency surgery. Nope. Just people disconnecting to their devices to tend to something much more important…other people!
There were some dufus critics who suggested that allowing the Calgary Stampede to go on so soon after such a tragedy was insensitive and greedy. As the “Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth” wraps up, even as its attendance numbers shrunk considerably, I am thinking that if anyone needed an escape from the reality of life and its hardships, its all the individuals that in a city often viewed by the outside world as nothing but oil grubbing capitalists proved those idiots wrong. Calgary and Southern Alberta proved yet again that the “Old School Way” still exists and even though I wasn’t there to help and even more imporant, even though I am at a paradise with our humble little cottage seemingly bragging about my good fortune, I am actually reminding all of us, we need to have a Humanity Reset. We need to sit back, turn off the gear and turn on the heart, soul and spirit that no device can replicate.