In lieu of the horrific terror attacks and ongoing mass shootings I find myself feeling a bit sad and quite honestly pissed off. It is impossible to turn on the television or read the newspaper without hearing about a new tragedy or event that has led to devastating loss and heightened fear. It breaks my heart that the children of this world must live within the suffocating confines of terror, chaos and wondering what might happen next. For me and millions of other adults, it feels overwhelming and frustrating that things feel so out of control and regardless of how much we try it feels impossible to completely protect the kids of this world and those that need protecting the most.
My 14 year old daughter shared that she wished she grew up during my era; a time when things were simple and yes, believe it or not, there were not smart phones, I pads or laptop computers readily accessible to every person’s fingertips. Amen to that. I must admit I was a bit surprised to hear those words come out of a teenager’s mouth as she continued to snap chat dozens of silly pictures from one friend to the next but as her words settled into a cozy spot in my heart I mourned the days of what was a much simpler way of life.
Of course, every era hosts its own stories of drama, heartache and loss but oh how I wish our children could experience some of what I remember to be a peaceful way of growing up and spending my days of youth. Gone are the days of summer when we rode our bikes to Sand Lake and spent the afternoon swimming with friends. Gone are the days of playing jail tag long past dark with the neighborhood gang minus feeling afraid. Gone are the days of going to my grandparents cabin and instead of staring robotically at a phone, we read books, played cards, sat by the fire, talked, laughed and went for long walks. Gone are the days of going camping or fishing with grandpa and yes, silence was golden. Gone are the days of barely using a phone that hung on the wall because it was on a party line or waiting your turn to take a bath because there was only one bathroom in the house. Guess what? We survived. Gone are the days of sitting down to a family dinner and actually talking to those we love most. The list could go on.
I miss those days. I miss how simple life was when I was growing up. I did not fear walking to the little store by myself. I did not fear going to a movie theatre, school or a restaurant praying a gunman didn’t show up. I did not break down from the constant pressure of homework and sports feeling like I was not getting enough sleep or couldn’t keep up. I was not constantly distracted or taunted by the allure of social media but instead focused on the things in my life that mattered most.
Don’t get me wrong, the gift of technology is amazing and the opportunities that exist in today’s world sometimes go beyond anything I would have ever dreamed possible but I cannot help but feel a profound sense of loss for the simplicity of my childhood and for some of what my children will never understand or know. I hate that our world is shadowed by uncertainty and fear; I hate that my kids feel that fear and that it has become a normal part of their daily life.
And then….I think about ALL of the children around the globe. I think about all of the children that have NO HOMES, have NO FOOD to EAT, are unable to go to school and the reality of war and death sits stoically right outside of their doorsteps. The images of other parts of the world and yes, sometimes in our own backyards reminds me of how blessed we truly are and that it is even more important to try and teach our children to feel gratitude and appreciation for ALL that they have. Stop the complaining and stop the entitlement that so many of us have. Focus on what is important. Simplify. Be kind to others, ALWAYS. Stop judging and bullying others. Take a moment whenever you can to slow down and embrace life and all that is good. Cling tightly to hope and faith AND don’t let it go. Forgive each other. Don’t be afraid to say I love you and say it often. Give and give some more.
Life can be incredibly hard and as hard as we might search for it, the days of simplicity are equally hard to find. But, I challenge all of us to never give up on simplicity and to work together hand in hand standing strong on behalf of ALL the children in this world and to never stop fighting for peace, love and kindness. Let go of what we can’t control and focus on what we can. Regardless of how difficult things might become, fight fear with courage, hate with love and the darkness with light. And…maybe just maybe put the phones down, grab a tackle box, grab your child by the hand and go fishing. It truly is the simple things that matter the most.