Simplicity

Life has become more complicated. Accessing information used to be through a local newspaper or radio. Today’s variety of cable channels and internet web sites challenges the learning curve of even the most robust boomer. 

Keeping a car in good repair twenty years ago, could be accomplished by a shade tree mechanic. Today changing a spark plug must be left to a technician. Even with all the complexity we deal with in our daily living, the simple things endure.

The evolution of our senses came over an unimaginably long period.  In the development of the human race we went from simple to complex. From one celled organisms with minimal sensory inputs to specialized interrelated chemical-biological mechanisms that sort and enhance information, we are an example of how evolution has progressed.

We are overstimulated, hit with a variety of inputs that are out of our control, from the visual circus of the media and internet to auditory onslaughts from the airwaves. How many FM stations can be jammed on one dial and how many channels can we find on cable TV that have nothing on?

For the child or young adult, learning how to survive in today’s world, it is easy to become a bin into which all the flotsam and jetsam of commercial culture is tossed. The modern caregiver, unlike the Boomer parent, must be vigilant about letting children become passive receptacles rather than human beings on the quest for deeper meaning in life. Baking bread, the explosion of flavor from a ripe strawberry, a Chickadee in spring and the sun rising on another day where the sky accelerates from dull gray to vivid reds and yellows, give us self-possession.

When there is too much sensory input, we are drawn away from our self.  Psychologists call this being stimulus bound.  We become enslaved to activity across our senses. We become undirected in the presence of all this hyperactivity which then becomes a counterpoint to focused effort. The simple act of being read to allows a young mind to integrate into a unique, uncluttered understanding.  Learning is about the ability to focus and grind it out.

We have not arrived at an evolutionary crossroad where we can substitute this reality for virtual ones.  The touch of a loved one, words spoken with affection, and the sight and smells of those important to us, give us ourselves, more enduring than a mouse click or a flick of finger across an i-phone.

Author: Doug Lewandowski

I have walked a varied path. I was a Christian Brother, an English teacher/counselor and Licensed Psychologist. I have a twice monthly column in the Duluth News Tribune and have had a story published in the Nemadji Review and placed third in this year’s Jade Ring contest of the Wisconsin Writer’s Association. I was a commentator for KCRB, Minnesota Public Radio in the 90s. I transplanted to Duluth to be closer to grandchildren.

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