“How was your Christmas break?”
“Oh, it was so much fun! I stood still and watched dirt erode.”
If someone asks me about my Christmas break when I get back to school next week, I will probably not respond with the above sentence. I will probably say that my break was great because I got to see my family and friends, or something like that. I might show off my new commentary set or brag about eating two turkey dinners. But I will not say that I watched dirt erode, because they will think I’m crazy.
You will probably think I’m crazy when I admit that it is true.
Although it won’t even make a list of the top 25 things I did over Christmas break, I did stand still for about 5 minutes last week and watch as the creek bank in front of me slowly disintegrated before my eyes. Very, very, very slowly. I actually heard the erosion first as I walked with my dog through one of the dry creek beds on our property. A faint crackling sound would come to my ears every time I paused to duck under a low branch, and eventually I became curious about what little creatures could be making the noise. Finally I stopped beneath an 8 foot tall bend in the creek bed and just watched. I didn’t see any little animals, but I did see what was making the sounds. First to my left, then to my right, and then right in front of me, little bits of dirt were coming loose from the steep bank and tumbling down into the dry creek bed. This was what I had been hearing, and for some reason I became captivated by the slow but steady disintegration of the dirt wall in front of me. I mean, creek beds will shift over hundreds of years, and I didn’t know it was something I could actually observe. But the dirt continued to trickle down the wall, and I kept watching until finally my dog quit hunting through the bushes and looked at me impatiently, as if to say, “Come on already. We’ve both seen dirt before.” So we went on with our hike. Maybe I’ll go back in a several years and find that the dirt bank has receded several more inches, and that the tree above it has fallen across the creek. But, at the rate it was eroding last week, I’ll probably be fifty by the time I see that.
If you are still reading after my mind-numbing description of eroding dirt, I want to assure you that there is a point to all this. The erosion of dirt was a sort of watershed moment for me. I’m not sure why that moment in particular stuck out to me and invaded my thoughts for the last few days, but I have not been able to get it off my mind. I have continued to ask myself, “If I’ve never noticed that dirt in all the times I trekked through that creek, then what else have I been missing?”
Don’t worry. I wasn’t instantly brought to a moment of epiphany by that eroding dirt. This is actually the culmination of a lot of thinking I have been doing, a lot of growing dissatisfaction concerning how I have been spending my time and managing my days. I have slowly found myself sucked into a routine where I spend most of my day going back and forth between the computer and the television. And I have found myself growing dull.
“Well, you aren’t improving much by shifting to the eroding dirt wall. It doesn’t get much duller than that!”
True. But the while the dirt wall itself was dull, it didn’t dull my mind. I am finding that the moments when I finally step away from my computer and take a walk outside or read a book or visit in the lobby with my friends or go for a run are the moments when I am most awake. When I escape the information overload of the internet and the television, I am finally able to hear God speak and myself think.
I’m not trying to be anti-internet or anti-technology. I’m just becoming less satisfied with the time I waste on these things. I am finding that the “breaks” I take to surf the internet have become much more than breaks. They have become vacuums that suck up valuable time without me ever realizing it’s gone. You can probably relate. Anytime I’ve been doing homework for a while, I decide it’s time for a break, and so I get on Facebook. I might not spend a lot of time on Facebook, but as soon as I’m done there, I feel the need to check my email. That then prompts me to go to ESPN and check the scores or read some new articles. Or I might go to Sporcle and take some fun quizzes, which usually will make me curious about something and I will end up reading the endless path of articles on Wikipedia. Or maybe I will go to Youtube and start watching funny videos that make me laugh. The worst is when I really get sucked in and begin playing Mine Sweeper or Solitaire. These are not really addicting games, but they seem to be specially designed to make wasting time an art. All these things are ok, but the problem is that I’d rather be doing other things. I’d rather go run or maybe read a book. I’d rather talk to people in person than see what they posted on Facebook yesterday. So why do I continue to go back to those same sites over and over and become lost again in their endless mazes of related links, pictures, scores, and articles?
I guess I’m not sure why I do it. But I bet there is a good chance that you do it too. I think it is because hanging out in the pathways of the internet is just easier. It has become easier to just click that next link than to actually get up and do something. It has become easier to “socialize” over Facebook than in real life. Time spent on the computer saps me of my energy and my imagination. I come back from those extended homework breaks on the internet less refreshed, less inspired, less primed to write an intelligent paper or understand a commentary. I came back from that walk in the woods re-energized, with my mind racing and my heart full of excitement
I feel like I been in a stupor for the last few months, and the eroding dirt finally woke me up.
Most of my posts usually have some tie in to the Bible, but this one doesn’t. The Bible doesn’t really say anything about Facebook or ESPN. But I do think that I can honor God more with my time and be used more by him in my life if I begin to make some changes, if I start waking up, if I actually begin doing “hard” things. The same might be true for you, too.
I don’t think I’m going to cancel my Facebook or stop watching basketball or anything like that. I like keeping up with friends, watching basketball, and expanding my mind. I like laughing at stupid videos. I just don’t like how much I have been doing these things at the expense of others. I am going to try to learn to use self-control in these areas. I am going to try to become a person who values every minute of the day and who doesn’t lose any in the never-ending labyrinth of the internet.
I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions, and this isn’t really one of those. It’s more of a life resolution. I hope it begins to take shape in my life during 2012, but I will probably have to resolve to wake myself up again in 2013, and then again in 2014. And I’ll probably still have to be making that resolution in 2020 and 2037 and 2054. That’s just the world we live in. Oh well, I figure it will be worth it.