Our theme for the month of October is “the elements.”
The Boomers actively worried that our generation was doomed because of technology, predicting that we would sit in front of different screens from morning until night, day after day…and I happily proved their point.
There were few rules (if any) in my parents’ house that specifically limited my technology use. If my homework was done and I was in bed on time, I was free to run off to any reality that I desired. A TV show, a movie, a website, a videogame: there were whole virtual universes right in my very own living room. How could I think of leaving it?
I guess I would go outside occasionally—when my thumbs cramped up from joysticks or my eyes dried up like craisins. It was usually during that time of the year where I had beaten all the games I owned, watched all of my movies, and flipped through all the TV channels only to find reruns of game shows and Touched by an Angel. My family owned seven acres of land, so there was plenty of nature that I could have explored; but instead, I walked out of the garage, looked around to see if I could spot any of our outdoor cats and, finally, went back inside, bored of it all.
This whole process, at most, lasted twenty minutes.
Thankfully, as I grew older, books became more incorporated into my life indoors, although I laughed in the face of my high school English teachers when they asked us to read excerpts from books like Walden. If we had grown up together, Thoreau would be the neighborhood kid knocking on the door asking my mother if I wanted to play soccer, and I would be the one hiding behind the door silently mouthing to my her, “Tell. Him. I. Died.”
Don’t get me wrong; I think nature is beautiful (from afar)! These days I love to open the windows and let the cool autumn wind fill my apartment, air sprinkled with grass and flowers and trees. Sometimes I even open the windows when it’s raining to let the lulling sound of water hitting the paved city roads rock me to sleep—just as long as I’m curled up in a warm, dry blanket on the couch, at least half asleep, with a mug of coffee or a glass of wine, and a vanilla-scented candle close by.
On my couch, I often peruse the pictures posted on Facebook by my hiker-wanderer friends. Part of me genuinely stares in awe, wondering about the person I could become if I stopped opting-out from fully immersing myself in the deep glory of the natural world; how much more I’d learn about creation; how much stronger I might become by going out and braving it…
…and then, the couch gets softer, and the breeze gets colder, and Netflix tells me that there’s a new Food Network show and it’s recommended just for me! I look at the posted pictures one more time, soaking in the colors, imagining myself in the place of the photographer, then I walk over to the door—and lock it for the night, as I prepare to enter yet another newly discovered universe with a question I didn’t even know I had: who actually are the Worst Cooks in America?
Michael Kelly (’14) graduated from Calvin College with a double major in psychology and writing. Shortly after graduating, he began his graduate level study of educational research, measurement, and evaluation at Boston College. When he is not studying learning and teaching, Michael learns and teaches through stories and writing—fiction and nonfiction, comedy and tragedy, and everything else in between.