Saturday, August 22, 2009

When do people think anymore?

I could say I’m worried about the next generation but I know that would probably induce a yawn from you followed by a couple of keystrokes taking you on to the next item on your surfing agenda. Wait! Wait!!!!

I’m not worried about the next generation so much. First of all, I try to NOT worry these days about much of anything. Read it in a Book somewhere.

I guess the reason some people worry about young people is that the media has such a presence in their (our?) lives and such pointed impact on everything they think and do. I’m not worried about the music they listen to. I hear songs now that I listened to back then. I had no clue as to the meaning of most of it. I just liked how it sounded much to the quiet dismay of my parents (See, this is nothing new at all). I do get a little concerned about the free access to visuals that weren’t there before. The lines of propriety were crossed a long, long time ago. Parents have to step up, step in and use the “off” button.

I’m not worried about fashion trends or how short shorts are or how mini the dresses are. Ever fly Southwest Airlines in it’s early days . . .yikes! Again, parents have to stand between boy/girl of the house and say in their best King Jimmy English “No wayeth as long as thou dwelleth under my roof (roofeth?)”

And I’m not so much worried about this as much as I simply wonder where it will end up. Well, that followed by lots of prayer.

The heat index in Houston was over 100 again today. Welcome to our summer. The heat has forced most of us to abandon a lot of outdoor activities lately. The AC has been pulling overtime most of the season.

But today, I vowed to take on the sunshine and spend a few hours on two wheels. No, not the pedaling kind of two wheels, the motorized version. My bike has been sitting a lot this year. With two surgeries that took a toll on my core strength and power (the doc wasn’t crazy about me trying to manhandle an 800 pound motorcycle), my ride has mostly been idle.

This morning, after breakfast, I pulled down the basket of car/bike wash towels, ventured into the dark recesses of the storage room outside to find the right soaps and waxes, etc, pulled out the hose and began the pre-ride ritual.

People ask me, “Why do you always wash your bike before you ride?” Well, first of all, I don’t want to ride around on a bike caked with dust and grime, and second, it’s kind of hard to wash it after the ride. Exposed engine parts tend to get a tad warm after a few hours. A cool spray of water on a hot engine . . . well, why tempt fate? So to answer the question, it’s a strange mixture of vanity and wisdom.

After the washing and the drying and the waxing, I hit the starter, thankful that the weeks off and the summer heat hadn’t done a number on my battery, and off I went. Yes, it was hot! But, man, I love to ride. It does something to me – for me. I’ve written more than a few lines of lyric and melody on the back of my bike.

Back in 2003, Harley Davidson celebrated their 100th Anniversary. That was the year I bought this black Electro Glide Ultra Classic. It’s one of those big daddies that has a radio, CB (wow, remember those????), CD player and all the other goodies. Sometimes, I touch the power button on the radio and tune to a classic oldies station. There’s something about riding and listening to CCR or Foreigner.

But today, the audio system stayed off for the whole ride. No talk stations arguing about who’s gonna win the Superbowl (oh, sorry – do I have to pay to write “Superb…?) or what’s gonna happen if the Astros don’t do something fast, or some public radio car care comedians messing around with the heads of their listeners.

Just good time to think, to pray, and to watch and listen.

If you’re thinking something profound came from today’s trip, I’m sorry to disappoint you. It didn’t. Nothing long forgotten came back to me. There was no George Costanza moment, “I just remembered where I left my retainer in second grade!”

I just rode and thought and prayed. Not the kind of prayer you’re taught in Sunday School. Just a conversation with the Father. A line or two here and there followed by the silence and the waiting. It was like spending the day with your best friend – some talking some listening, some just being together. The thoughts that came during the waiting were sweet. There was an innocence that doesn’t often show itself in this culture of noise and busyness.

So when do you take the time to just think?

When my kids were young, boredom would sneak up on them like a summer cold. Out of nowhere, in the middle of what you would otherwise think was a good day, one of them would declare, “I’m bored.” I don’t know when I first resorted to this tactic, but I remember using it often – even through those difficult high school years. Whenever one of the boys would declare boredome, I would make them go to their rooms – not out of punishment – sit on the bed (no sleeping, no listening to music, no talking on the phone) and just – think.

Without fail, within a half hour, sometimes less, they would emerge, ready to tackle some project, something they’d wanted to do but had forgotten all about. It just took some time to remember and reclaim the passion for that treehouse, that game deep in the closet, that model that never got assembled, that . . . whatever it was. It just took some down time – some time to think.

I’m concerned (evangelical-speak for “worry”) about the creative void that will almost certainly occur in the near future because people aren’t thinking, they aren’t dreaming and using their imaginations. While I was riding today, I passed dozens of runners in all parts of the city. None of them were running without headphones. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad people listen to music! Duh. And I certainly don’t know what goes on every minute of everyone’s day. But everywhere we go, people are occupied with their cell phones, their ipods, their blackberries,etc. It’s not only that we’re missing interaction with each other, we’re not taking time to watch what’s going on around us, we’re not listening. Sometimes there’s need right beside me and if I’m not careful, I get so occupied with my stuff, I miss it. Who’s to know what direction a day might take – for that matter a week or a lifetime – if we just pay attention to something outside our own realm.

Wow….this soapbox is beginning to wobble.

Turn something off today. Walk away, even if it’s just an hour or so, from your iPhone, your blackberry, your cell phone. (It bothers me to feel the way I do if I happen to get in the car only to find myself a whole MILE from home with out my phone!!! Wimp. Take on the world sans phone once in a while.) Resist the urge to enter the family room, the kitchen, the bedroom, that hotel room, and automatically turn on he tv set.

Maybe someone should figure out how to charge for quiet. Then we might consider it a prize to be treasured. But ‘till then, try a free moment of solitude and silence and enjoy.


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