The Wonder of Stillness

Time to break out of the blog block that has dominated the holidays. Why not? Today Vince and Connie head back to school after 12 (count ’em, an even dozen) days off. Why else would the Parent Imperfect be tickling the keys in a 54-degree dining room at 5:30AM?

The reasons for the block are not mysterious. After pontificating about “Unplugging” the holidays, the PI and Liz presented Connie with her first cellphone and Vince with his first iPod Touch this holiday. Connie was one of two in her class without a cellphone, and the Touch is virtually obsolete, but, make no mistake, these were big changes in PI-land. Together with the PI’s “business” iPad, they made this the most “Plugged-In” holiday ever.

And so the PI and Liz limp into the New Year groping for equilibrium on new terrain. This will become, now more then ever, the land of contested Prohibition. Bootleggers, speakeasys and moonshiners will be everywhere. Liz and the PI obviously need to take to heart the hit commercial of the holiday season. You must have seen that dear child gawking into the iPhone with the voice over instructing, “Who would ever think of limiting an iPhone?”

Of course the new terrain has its high points, real and imagined. Being in closer touch with Connie when her bus is 30 minutes late and night is falling will be a very good thing. It will also be good to know without being there when one of her many upcoming rehearsals and performances of The Wizard of Oz is coming to a close. And, yes, Vince is approaching the day when he must learn to self-regulate his romance with the Internet…or not. Maybe having the iTouch will help with that, in some counter-intuitive way.

On Sunday, Pico Iyer brought to the New York Times a New Years tribute to “The Joy of Quiet.” While not generally the PI’s cup of tea, Pico’s unearthing of Pascal’s reminder that “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries” seems important here. History, at least where the PI lives, is not be on the side of the unpluggers, but there may still be space to pass on the wonder of stillness.

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10 Comments

Filed under Just Parenting

10 responses to “The Wonder of Stillness

  1. Nancy

    I agree, that Joy of Quiet article helped me reaffirm the absolute necessity of getting outside – both for the recalcitrant teen in our house as well as myself (never mind the dog!).
    Good luck with the prohibitions in your house. at ours, a limit on the first person shooter game during the week has worked, although it’s now substituted with family TV watching (never thought TV would seem so innocuous!). I highly suggest Friday Night Lights as family TV – it is a gripping drama about teenage high school football in a small town in TX which gets into every teen issue imaginable, thus providing fodder for much interesting family discussion. Disks Available at the Boston Public Library for luddites like us without streaming netflix!!!!

  2. Pingback: Can’t Put Your Phone Down During Dinner? Try Picking Up The Check. | Momfy's Blog

  3. Heidi B

    At first glance I thought the title was “The Wonder of Silliness” and I am in full agreement we need humor as well as quiet time.
    I feel sorry for youth today growing up so connected to the world at large but not connected to learning the skills of real up close and personal human communication.
    Since we are constantly bombarded with stimulation it most likely seems odd and foreign when one experiences calm and quiet. At some point I believe we will come full circle and finally crave stillness and quiet. I got lost a little bit in the beautiful photo you posted ~ craving some solitude in my own life. Take a deep breath and teach your children to breath too =-)

  4. Heidi B

    I imagine parents need to insist there are times in each day when their children are “uplugged” .They certainly won’t like it but will most likely appreciate it later in life.when they realized the parents cared enough to at least attempt to create well-rounded people who can communicate in a normal conversation. I’d like to think that skill will still be valued in their future…? I was at a dinner party in October & every adult (except me & my parents) sat at the table with their cell phones in constant use. Riveting dinner conversation (!) It will have to start with us ~ if the adults can’t even unplug for a minute or two the children won’t be able to either…

    • That is one thing that some parents need to insist on, but it isn’t at all easy to do. We’ve taught these kids to have minds of their own, and they use those minds on us. I suppose it is good that they’ve heard us on at least that one point. And you’re right, any change has to start with the parents. It doesn’t do for the Parent Imperfect to rush to get Vince’s iPod away from him at bedtime, so that the PI can rush back to his blog…

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