“I’m bored.” “I want to go home.” “I need my iPad.” I wonder how many families have these words echoing through their hallways as more people of all ages have more free time on their hands during the summer months and vacations.
Recently I spent some time with some young people who had a very difficult time amusing themselves when the smart phone to play games was not available. They were fine when entertained by friends or adults with fast activities.
I tried the “what-if-you-were-on-a -desert-island-and-did-not-have-electronics -what-would-you-do” question. I received the deer-in-headlights look. “Impossible, it is 2015, it is not going to happen, as if I cannot have the web around the world.” But what if, what would you do? Can you read a book? Hold the novel in your hands, read a page, turn it, read another, turn it. No scrolling involved. It is not to say they are not good readers, they just read online. Obviously I do not value this the same as a book or the ability to turn off a screen.
So it made me think about this generation of technology-connected kids; what if the power went out. What would they do? I think it is a really good skill to teach our children and for ourselves to learn to enjoy our own company, amuse ourselves without technology and enjoy a variety of activities.
We don’t have to be an artist to paint or draw, we can approach it like a young child, with enthusiasm, and be fearless and just put the brush to paper. Music can be another great friend, whether your own voice, a drum, shakers, guitars, piano, violin, flute — you get the picture, there are no electronics needed. Just have fun, or perhaps dance like no one is watching.
Sports — balls are the best toy ever invented and can be used so many ways as a solo activity or with one other or a group. There are many sports and games to play.
A pen or pencil and paper, to write down your thoughts, to doodle, to sketch, write up how you would spend your millions, do the math. Years ago the lads went to Camp Educo in 100 Mile, and I would highly recommend this adventure camp! They did many exciting outdoor activities from hiking, kayaking, white water canoeing, camping, rock climbing, ropes activities and much more. But they also learned to spend time alone, in fact eight hours one day, 24 for the older campers. A pencil and a notepad were their only entertainment. It was a very interesting experience for them, and at first scary, then a challenge to be enjoyed and accomplished. They were able to speak again to another human eventually and had time for deep thoughts.
Thinking is a healthy activity for us. Deep thoughts and the freedom to allow yourself the time to just ponder what ever comes into your mind or a challenge you are having. Ten to 20 minutes a day, or while you walk the dog, ride your bike, unplugged.
Meditation is an activity all of us can benefit from, even the young ones, and research is continually showing it is very healthy. Yoga and meditation are both peaceful activities that strengthen us physically and mentally.
I wonder if the retreats where no one speaks for 24 to 72 hours are becoming more popular because we are craving silence and time to think? In our technology-filled world, which is amazing, we also need to look at the clouds, the stars, appreciate a sunset and a sunrise without taking a photo and posting it on Facebook. Frame it in your mind and draw on it for comfort or inspiration when you need it.
A grade school teacher of mine used to say “Silence is golden.” I think she was on to something.
It is only children or teens who can struggle with the need to be entertained, as many adults do not like to be alone or have a quiet house. I have learned over the years to appreciate the time I have alone and with no noise distractions. Maybe it is a sign of my ageing, and my desire for peace, world and within myself!
Michele Blais has worked with children and families in the North Okanagan for the past 29 years. She is a longtime columnist with The Morning Star, appearing every other Sunday.