Sunday, May 11, 2014

Finding G.I. Joe

My small town often reminds of how TV depicts 1950's America.

Tucked in between fields of grass growing for seed and Christmas trees, Silverton has a lot of charm.  There's a real downtown, complete with a barbershop, old-timey movie theater and lots of people out walking around.  You can't go anywhere without running into someone you know.  Murals adorn every blank space in town.  We have covered bridges and an annual pet parade consisting of kids walking their dogs, walking their cats, or pulling their lizards in red Radio Flyer wagons.

Today on my run I took my dog to a big grassy field.  There was no one there tonight, so I let him off to enjoy the cacophony of smells that makes up his world.  He romped through the grass, sniffing heavily around one clump of gross, until up popped a boy with binoculars and an "aw-shucks" grin, straight out of Normal Rockwell painting.

Minus the puppies. And wearing a Transformers T-Shirt
"You found me!" he said.

"I did?" I said, confused, "Why are you in the bushes?"

"I'm joining the army when I grow up, so I figured I should practice."  He then looked at me through his binoculars, proving his point.  Made sense to me, and I told him so.  "At least I'm not playing xBox." he continued.

And he's right.  He's out on a nice spring night playing with nothing but his imagination.  No TV, no cell phone, no electronics.  When I picture the 50's that's what I imagine.  Maybe he would have had a few friends or a puppy with him though. 
We had a nice little chat before he went back to playing G.I. Joe, and I finished my run.  Those little personal interactions, friendly, neighborly definitely add to the quality of our lives.  Research even shows, the better you know your neighbors, the more likely you are to survive a disaster.  And ironically while so much of the technology in our lives is about connecting us to other human beings, it often ends up preventing, or at a minimum distracting us from real human interactions when they happen.   

I had my headphones in when my dog sniffed out that kid.  I could have kept running, but I'm glad I paused for a second to take out the ear buds.  It was nice to get to know this kid, who'd rather play army man outside than play xBox.  How many more connections could we make if we took out the headphones, kept our phones in our pockets, or turned off the TV a little more often?

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