I was reading a Times leader article today questioning the necessity or merits of pursuing a life of busyness – Filling every second of the day is neither necessary or wise, opined the subhead. It was prompted by news of an app that wants to help people capitalise on micro-moments (like waiting for a lift or wifi signal to connect) by using the time to expand their foreign language vocab. Rather than expand their waistline by eating buns, which is a far better micro occupation in my opinion.
One line stuck out for me, not for its originality (hardly) but because of my own extra sensitivity to its essential truth in the afterglow of the HNBC Easter gathering at Brownhills. “It may come as a surprise… but people are often more rewarding than screens”. Oh yes. A lot of my work sees me interact with a screen, and my days segue into evenings where I multi-task watching the latest box set while checking what’s happening online. Sad. Real-world exchanges tend to be limited to ‘Can you bring me the Ben and Jerrys?’, ‘Which dog has done THAT?’ and ‘Time for bed’. So how nice was it for the few days at Brownhills to abandon the virtual and the fictional and go into the real world and prosper? To meet strangers and leave with new friends? Chat animatedly with passers-by – so what if they thought I was a mad old dog lady? Live up to being a mad old dog lady by letting Rosie and Buzz cosy up to all and sundry and seeing them all fall prey to Rosie’s silky fur and yearning lean-ins for love? (Gets them every time!)Banter with boats going off for a wander this way and that? Share woes and swap war stories? Listen to learned talks from the likes of the legend that is Malcolm Braine? Watch arcane waterways films including the marvellous Play for Today ‘Atlantis’ (on screen, yes, but in sympatico company which made it a very different experience)? Get a touch of bidder’s fever and end up with more items than I could safely carry back to the boat after the tat auction? Participate in a testing, teasing quiz with aforementioned new friends and have a good old laugh, choke on a peanut and while I’m at it, volunteer to help with the cross-country carrying of some old boat top cloths to their new owner? Carry on riding the wave of feeling once home with mad cruising plans hatched with the new friends who happily didn’t excommunicate you after the quiz?
Without spouting too much new age bollocks about it, it felt deep and real and exciting and joyful and meaningful..it gave me a buzz. And yet at the end of the day it was just people hanging out and having fun, something we’ve been doing successfully for centuries…I shouldn’t really be surprised should I? But the fact that I drank it in so readily suggests that there’s been a bit too much screen time lately, too much iPad-diction, too much valuable life being lost in flat 2D when there is this most amazing, vibrant, precious 3D – Brasso fingers and all – to throw oneself into, suck up and savour. Not forgetting to eat more buns.
EDITED TO ADD: I feel exactly the same way when executing my piratical forays onto boats domestic and foreign (despite iPads sometimes appearing at the breakfast table) They’re such great happenings – brilliant, lively, fun-filled socials – that I just want to do more – so, targets, you have been warned.