Staying connected to what really maters

My dear friend Margie forwarded an e-mail to me and I found it so profound that I am including it in its entirety.  It is called “the stranger”.          

A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small town.  From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family.  The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche.  My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey.  But the stranger…he was our storyteller.  He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies.

If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future!  He took my family to the first major league ball game.  He made me laugh, and he made me cry.  The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn’t seem to mind.

Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet.

(I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)

Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them.  Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home – not from us, our friends or any visitors.  After our long time visitor stayed longer he became more daring however, and even got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush.  My Dad didn’t permit the liberal use of alcohol but the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis.  He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished.  He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex.  His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing..

I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger.  Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked… And NEVER asked to leave.

More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family.  He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first.  Still, if you could walk into my parents’ den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.

His name?….

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We just call him ‘TV.’

He has a wife now….we call her ‘Computer.’

Their first child is “Cell Phone”.

Second child “I Pod “

Why is it that we allow our values to be diluted by outside influences? 

Technology is great in so many ways but it has become so invasive.  Today it is not uncommon to see  one person or both people at the same table in a restaurant talking or texting on their cell phones.  I would have thought that their decision to come to a restaurant was prompted by their desire to share a meal together and to connect with each other.  Have we forgotten the art of true connection?

Younger individuals are in serious jeopardy of losing the art of true connection.   I recall seeing a video with a group of teens who were supposedly at a party to have fun and interact with each other and instead they were all on their cell phones! 

Why have we allowed ourselves to be so bombarded by technology that we let it control our lives?  When you constantly text and talk on your cell, or stay on the computer – facebook/internet, or have your IPod plugged into your ear or you are mindlessly watching T.V., when you are “spending time” with your family or friends, you are sending a message that they are not quite as important to you as what you are doing.

I personally vow to stay true to my values, not permitting anything or anyone to change them, and to spend quality time with those who are important to me.  Will you do the same?

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