They used to play outside. As children. The world was so full. Young minds in search of adventure. And they spent hours on their own. They played games, and ran around. Then one day things changed.
It was years later. And he was thinking about the change. One moment the world was the stage. Then the next life was different.
One day he rode his bike down the driveway. He turned sharp to see what would happen. The small plastic toy rolled. He stayed on the toy green machine. As it turned over and over in the dirt.
When he got up. And he saw he wasn’t hurt. He was excited. What fun it was to roll your green machine. But he was a little scared. This was a moment he remembers as fun. But he doesn’t know the feeling now.
Thinking back it is hard for him to feel what the child felt. Maybe it is just because of age. But it feels like something deeper. When young and exploring the land it was all new. Many things were new to him, and it filled him with pleasure. Life was an adventure. So much awaited to be discovered and learned.
As he got older the adventure faded. Life began to feel tired. And it took too much energy to go outside. Inside his home life was still. There were new ways to pass the time. A new form of adventure had replaced the old.
Where he used to spend hours alone with the trees. He now spent them alone on the sofa. It wasn’t a book grabbing his attention. The way a new path once grabbed his imagination.
He used to love hills the most. When you walk up a hill all you can see is the sky. What lay on the other side is a mystery. It could be anything. And he would dream of what he might find. Each hill hides a new discovery.
But the hills are steep. And he has taken to not climbing them anymore. A new vision is available and it doesn’t need so much imagination.
The new friend in his life was television. And it was a friend taking more and more time. It took time from his adventures. It took time from reading. It took time from writing thoughtfully. And it gave nothing in return. Hours and hours faded away in front of a lighted box.
The days dimmed into nights. The world was the same as the day before. But he wasn’t interested in hills. The feeling of adventure had been supplanted by the need for television. He had to keep up with the Kardashians now. People at school talked about TV. They didn’t talk about adventures in the woods.
If only he had gone to school with Christopher McCandless. Or Everett Ruess.The great John Muir would be the teacher. Trees would be text books. And teach more than any book ever printed.
Television becomes like a drug. Like methamphetamine. You wonder why you started. You once loved it. Now you need it. You promise to quit tomorrow. And tomorrow. Then the next day. Slowly your life is eaten away from the inside.
What if life could be the adventure it was years ago? The TV a useless device of story telling. We live in a world which must know. We must see. We must. But is all the things we must see good for us? You watch your neighbors home burn on live news. Does it make you feel empowered or helpless. What can you do but watch?
Television news crews aim for deeper veins. They aren’t drug pushers. But themselves caught in the pointless drama of their worlds. And it takes part of their humanity.
Why else would you hunt people in pain. Looking for trauma to share. Try to make people cry for the news. There is a human response to grief. It isn’t to broadcast it for the world to see. It is to treat it like a wound. Take it close, hide it and heal the hurt. But news crews ravish private lives. They ransack lives for the story.
When you ask someone to recall a memory. The memory itself is changed. You become a part of the memory. Are you adding compassion to their memories or fear?
Why do people slow for an accident?
There is curiosity like he had as a child. And there is voyeurism. Maybe it stems from natural instincts. A desire to help others, but the world limits our ability to help. Or a concern about a larger threat. But the world is full of threats. Many of which are too far to be of harm.
He still does’t own a TV. And people think this is odd. But he isn’t immune to the world’s drug. The two have found other ways to meet each other for a fix. In this new world your phone is a TV. Your computer is a TV. Your tablet is a TV. Maybe one day your watch will be a TV.
Meanwhile he hasn’t put his bike together in six months.
(Room to Write exercise)