It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?
-Henry David Thoreau
The man staring intently at a newspaper vending machine grabbed my attention. He was bent over, reading through the plastic door. As I guided my shopping cart around him, he barely shifted his stance. Clearly, he was very interested in whatever was on the front page of the Wall Street Journal
We were staying on the Florida panhandle for spring break and I had just finished the week’s final run to the grocery store. A few final items, a trip through the express lane, and then back to the beach. In a day or two, we would be home again and back to work and school.
The man at the vending machine must have just arrived in Florida for his own family vacation. His shorts were still pressed. His T-shirt was clean. His skin was still pale and his shopping basket held large containers of sunscreen and some inflatable toys. The little girl yanking on his arm still had price tags on her new sunglasses and plastic pail. Daddy,
she ordered, Let’s go! Now! Please!
Buddy, I know your pain, I thought to myself.
Here was another person having trouble leaving work behind. In the run-up to being out of town, I had spent many extra hours seeing patients in clinic, adding urgent surgical cases onto the schedule, and hammering through the pile of paperwork that had accumulated on my desk. By the time we had gotten in the car to drive from Wisconsin to Florida, I had been frazzled. It had taken me a few days to reset.
As I watched the man, I realized that I was not alone.
I drove back to the place we were staying and unpacked the groceries. The beach beckoned but so did the computer.
I reached for the laptop power switch just as the cell phone rang. Daddy, where are you? Did you get everything? We’re waiting for you on the beach!
I froze for a second. Then, remembering the poor guy at the grocery store, I grabbed the cooler and headed out the door.
||The following is feedback received for this blog:|
Hi Bruce -I know exactly what you mean. It is difficult to disengage in things we throw ourselves into..even when we want to because we've been in *the mode* and it's the pace we've acclimated to.
Electronics also have a way of pulling us in... insidiously so at times. The next thing we know..we are involved in things (work/recreation) that aren't cultivating our personal relationships..
They are wonderful ..but I think easily become substitutes distracting us from what is most important ..the people right in front of us.
Maybe I am discussing apples and oranges here ..but I identified with the girls requesting their dad's presence.