From Behind Our Silver Screens

The world needs us to be good people right now. Can we rise to the occasion?

Sunday mornings, I usually get a short chirp from my phone that’s different from all the rest–it’s my weekly pop-up that tells me how much time I’ve spent with my head down, looking at its tiny screen. I quietly celebrate the weeks when Apple tells me I’ve used its miracle box less than the week before. In the wake of a pandemic and our national pleas for quarantine, I’m guessing those streaks are coming to an end.

Lots of people have spilled lots of ink collectively worrying out loud that our obsessiveness with social media, apps, and the like drives us apart. We are isolated by our devices, self-sorted into silos and echo chambers, spared the humanity of having to look each other in the eyes and come up with something to say. The internet has ruined us, they cry. God save the Millennials!

As the phrase “social distancing” no doubt battles for contention as Webster’s word of the year, isn’t this what we’ve all been preparing for?

You’re Not Behind


When you spend all of your time staring at the back of the person in front of you, you’ll never appreciate where you are.

Do you want to know one of the most amazing tricks the human mind can pull off? Accomplish something pretty cool. It can be anything–setting a personal best on your morning run, getting a promotion, making it all the way through a piano piece without having to stop, finally painting the guest bathroom that totally-in shade of gray.

And then? Maybe you enjoy it for a minute or two, or a week or two, even. Perhaps you feel some sort of confirmation–I could do this after all!–which saturates your brain momentarily.

The problem is, it wears off, and this is where your brain really messes with you. Did you set a personal best? Great, run faster. Got a promotion? Still not making as much money as your friend so-and-so. Finished The Entertainer? You’ll never make it through Rachmaninoff. Paint the bathroom? Gray is so out.

Unless it doesn’t, of course.

Slowing down for a day of rest–and having the world catch up to you anyway.

This past Sunday was chilly but sunny; Friday and Saturday had been raw and damp, rainy days that befitted late January, even if the month had borne absurdly warm weather just weeks before. But there it was: sunshine and perfect blue skies.

Kel and I decided to spend the day at leisure. Friday, I’d driven to Raleigh for my interview with the doctoral program at N.C. State, which took place on Saturday. Afterward, I’d driven straight home, arriving just in time to fire up the grill and char steaks in honor of Kelly’s birthday. Julia and Thomas had spent the night at Carl and Dianne’s the night before. Annie, who had been suffering a bit of a head cold, stayed home with Kel. I’m not sure any member of our family felt well rested when they awoke Saturday morning.

So we decided to keep it simple Sunday morning, sleeping in, indulging in a full breakfast, sipping coffee afterward. Kel took up the duties of conveying a biblical lesson with the children–they really do have an advanced sense of guilt when it comes to missing church–and afterward we spent time reading while the kids played, and noon arrived without delay.

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