“What if I stopped, just for awhile, to see where the sun goes?” -the bird and the bee, “Spark”
I just got back from a couple of weeks in Italy. I lived there for about a year when I was 17 and hadn’t been back to visit for, well, a long time. Happily, my ability to speak Italian came back almost immediately, which was the only thing that happened in a hurry during my vacation there.
I had left my cell phone in Brooklyn, so there were no calls to answer or return. I didn’t check email. After our morning swim, we’d eat al fresco at our Italian host’s picnic table, our senses awash in the simple pleasures of a summer day.
Every lunch was accompanied by perfectly ripe tomatoes dressed in a grassy extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. As a light breeze drifted through the trees and across our foreheads, the only noise was the soft hum of the bees in the wildflowers underscoring our gentle conversation.
This was quite a contrast to the culture from which I’d just taken a sabbatical. Stateside, we’re inundated with books, websites, and workshops dedicated to helping us be more authentic, more creative, more ourselves. Perhaps this culture of “identity acquisition” is a by-product of the great evil and obsession of the Western world: multi-tasking.
We’re on our cellphones all day. We send “tweets” about our groceries, spouses, and commuting woes. We link the “tweets” to our Facebook pages and amass hundreds of “friends.” Meanwhile, sitting down face-to-face with an actual friend has become a rarified privilege.
I have nothing against technology; I love the Internet, in fact. But I believe that we are most authentic and creative when we put away all our goddamned digital devices for a few days and, instead of reporting the minutiae of our daily lives to faceless cyber-masses, we actually enjoy and inhabit the minutiae of our daily lives.
Because the minutiae is pretty fucking great.