Friday, November 9, 2007

Take Time to Slow Down

I sometimes lose touch with things that are important in life as I go about living in a land far from home. I am a sergeant in the Army. I have many responsibilities and everyone needs everything done right now. We are at war. Though we have times when we are not, we are mostly pretty busy; always on the go.

We are in the ‘Information Age’. We need our news, statistics, gossip and messages delivered, now! We have text messages, emails and cell phones on us at all times. We can't live without them and we are furious when a call is 'dropped' or we are in a 'dead zone'. (I don't think there are as many of those in the city, but we have them in my neck of the woods.) What will I do? No one can contact me right this second!

At no other time in history has information moved this fast. On the battlefield it has proven invaluable in saving lives and finding bad guys. In the old days, a scout would run ahead of the main body and observe the enemy, then return and brief the commander on what he saw. Today, we send planes with video cameras and sensors that cannot only tell you there are bad guys, but how many and what weapons they have; even in total darkness.

Today, we can even be engaged in a battle with our enemy and call home to tell a loved one we miss them. A reporter can take photos of the action, then zip them through the air to their office in the United States. We can track our vehicles with computers and tell how fast they are going and where they are. If something bad happens, we know exactly where to send more good guys to help them.

The high speed world is not an option anymore; we demand it. If the phone lines go down, we want it fixed now! If a cell phone doesn't have a signal, the provider is contacted and complained to about it. If the internet is slow or not working, emails can't be sent and we won't know if someone needs us right now! We don't just need information, we need it now!

The other day my son was picking through some envelopes on the table and his mom asked him what he was doing. He was upset that I haven't written him and asked if any of the letters were for him from me. She said no and he wrote me a letter and asked me to write him. She was going to mail it from work but he said he had to mail it from the house.

A letter; a trivial piece of paper with words of expression I could easily send in an email? I had almost forgotten the ancient ways of 'written" communication. I even have 'free mail' and could send a 'real letter' every day; for free if I wanted to! I have been so caught up in my 'instant life' that I forgot about the simple things.

I forgot about sitting around the pond, fishing with my children. I forgot about encouraging my son to eat a worm when he was four and my ex-wife gagging at the sight. I had forgotten about my kids and I painting our bathroom with our hand prints and how much fun we had. I have forgotten the times when my children and I walk through the pasture to find 'Leprechaun Holes' and see if we can get their gold.

In this non-stop, information flowing, instant world of ours I forgot. I forgot to take time to slow down.