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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Succumbing to life's little games

© Another Day in the Country

There is always this dance that I do with technology. Do I join up or back off? Do I learn a new skill, get new equipment, do what everyone else is doing? Or, do I opt out, saying, “That’s not for me?”

I opted out of having an internet connection in my home. I still don’t have one, but I’m getting closer to succumbing.

I opted out of getting a smart phone for what seemed like ages and then I finally got one — and I love it.

I opted out of doing social media like Facebook. I came close to getting an account when we had our bed and breakfast, but never really finished the procedure by actually using it.

This constantly changing, always-needing-upgrades world is frustrating for me.

You’ve heard me ranting and raving about how distraught I am that the people around me are literally addicted to their cell phones.

They prefer them to real people. We sit at a restaurant and view the folks across from us with their noses glued to a screen and the instant gratification it seems to provide while the conversation with real people at this real table languishes.

I don’t like it! However, unfortunate as it may be, it looks as if I’ve succumbed.

I’m with my family, who I’ve longed to be around, and we’re sitting at my grandson’s Aikido class. (Aikido is as foreign to me as computer games, but I’m trying to understand and appreciate.)

The kids are warming up, and my daughter is communicating on her smart phone with a wide range of associates, keeping the world turning, the plates spinning at her spa, with the misnomer, “Day Off.”

I’m slightly annoyed.

We wait for the class to begin. Today there’s a promotion, and Dagfinnr is getting another colored belt in a progression of blues and oranges and reds and browns, culminating in degrees of black. It’s a rainbow to me, nothing more.

“I’ve got a game on my phone that I think you’d enjoy,” my daughter says. “Try it. I’ll show you how to get it on your phone. It’s free!”

And just like that, I’m hooked. Like Eve in the garden, doing apple tasting, this new knowledge is mine, tempting me to while away hours of time improving my score.

My daughter has played this game so much — it’s her calming technique when she’s stressed — that her high score is close to 25,000 points. I was struggling to make 500 points before I chose some combination of shapes that locked me out.

This game is addictive! I find myself going to it over and over in a quiet moment.

Awake in the morning, I check my messages on the phone and, before I know it, I’m playing that game for just a little while — which stretches into 10, 15 minutes — while I’m still in bed.

Can you believe it? I’m horrified.

Here I am trying to tempt my grandson away from the computer with all kinds of art projects and actual hands-on games, and his grandmother has been hooked by a computer game.

Who have I become? I’m the art teacher who worries about kids and computers and how they’ve forgotten how to use a pencil and how that magical screen makes everything too easy and too instant — and now I’m doing it, too.

I’ve decided that technology is like peppermint plants in my garden.

My neighbor, David, gave me some “chocolate mint” plants years ago, and I planted them around my pond.

Peppermint is lovely. It smells good and makes wonderful tea. It can even be used as mosquito repellant, but it is invasive. If you don’t watch out, prune it back, pull it out, contain it, that peppermint plant, with its underground tentacles, will take over your garden, your pond, your world, and you’ll have one heck of a time getting rid of it!

I like running into peppermint when I’m mowing. It smells so good. But, envigorating as it may be, it’s only a scent, not in your basic food groups!.

So, it’s another day in the country, and I’m pruning peppermint. Like that adorable game on my smart phone, you’ve got to watch it, cut it back, so it doesn’t take over your life!

Last modified July 7, 2016

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