Paula’s Post #2 — Quite frankly, I’ve been distracted lately. Not just a little bit distracted, a lot distracted. Why? Well, that’s just the point. I think we are all being distracted by the over-complexity of the modern world. Let me give you an example, comparing life when I was a little girl, with my life now.
Life when I was a little girl:
When I was a little girl, my family was very fortunate to have a small summer cabin, right at the water’s edge, on Bowen Island. As I recall the story, Nana received some financial compensation after a railroad accident, and used the proceeds to purchase their own small summer cabin in White Rock, BC. My mother’s family occupied that little cabin every summer when my mother was a little girl, taking the train down from North Vancouver with the family cat, dog and guinea pig, (the latter safely ensconced in Nana’s sewing basket). When Nana passed away in the early 1960’s, my mother carried on the tradition and used a small inheritance to purchase our family cabin on Bowen Island. Every summer during my early youth we basked in ‘rustic simplicity’. We had no phone, no hot water, no indoor bathrooms (our ‘outhouse’ was several yards away up a slug invested path that no one in their right mind would brave in the middle of the night). We didn’t even have a “Dad”. My poor father, with just a few weeks holiday, merely deposited us at the cabin in June when school let out. But for a few precious weeks in August when he took his annual vacation, he spent most of the summer toiling at his desk in Portland, Oregon.
So what did we have?
We had the sea, we had rocky bluffs and forests to explore, we had swimming and diving and row boats and a neighbour who took us fishing and water-skiing almost every day. We had a mother who loved the sun and the ocean and instilled in us a great love of the sea, teaching us that it was far more important to enjoy the great outdoors, playing, than to be cooped up inside, watching TV, (which in any event, we didn’t have anyway). My mother didn’t cook much – I can’t even remember what we ate for dinner – but I know that occasionally, she let me make pancakes on our old, wood fired, cast iron stove. That is what I remember about my life as a little girl.
Life now that I’m a not-so-little-girl:
Now that I am a not-so-little-girl, I am very fortunate to have a beautiful home overlooking Bowen Island. In the distance, the forested, blue-green cliffs beckon. Yes, the very same Island I summered on, as a young girl. But that is where all similarities end. Now, I no longer live in ‘rustic’ simplicity. I don’t live in any size, shape or form of simplicity whatsoever.
Why is that?
1) Two Homes: My husband John and I now own two homes, one here in West Vancouver, one in the Greater Palm Springs area. I’m not complaining. I know how fortunate we are (or rather, how hard we have worked to make this happen). But it’s a lot of work owning two homes.
But wait! My parents managed two homes, so maybe that’s not the problem. What didn’t they have?
2) Dogs: That must be it, dogs.
But wait, we had a family dog when I was a child, too. A Boston Terrier named Beans, a cutie of a dog who got kicked by a horse when he was a puppy and always ran a bit oddly. Oh sure, we’re now a bit more burdened in the ‘doggie’ department, with our rambunctious, 75 pound Standard Poodle and our almost 17 year old, blind and deaf Mini Poodle, (aka “The Duchess”) whom we inherited from my beloved late Auntie. But that can’t be the only problem.
No wait, I don’t have kids. At least not at home kids. All my step-kids are grown and moved away. Married, with their own little toddlers. My mom had to look after two little kids, all on her own, 24/7 as we now say, so surely that can’t be the problem.
Ah! Now I think we’re getting somewhere. Between us, my husband and I have four cell phones (we used to have five, but my husband had to give up his Blackberry after developing ‘Blackberry Thumb‘ for which he has just had surgery! (No, I am not kidding. Google it and see for yourself). We have five televisions (and that’s just in this house); two PVR’s plus Apple TV. We get Netflix; we have Pay-Per-View, we have two iPads. But even these distractions are not my Waterloo. No. My problem, is that we have THE INTERNET.
Now, let’s be honest. The internet is a useful tool for both business and leisure. But has it taken over? This past seven days, I spent over 30 hours trying to produce one electronic eNewsletter for my work as a real estate agent. Add to this the 20 plus hours I spent trying to configure my Blogger blogs (I had trouble redirecting the domains) and another 10 hours spent on tech support with GoDaddy. (Blogger doesn’t even have ‘tech support’ but that didn’t stop me from spending another several wasted hours trying to research the ‘Blogger Domain Server’ issues on Google). Maybe I should switch to WordPress? What do you think?
Do you even know what I’m talking about?
I hope not!
Add to this the fact that I’m trying to increase my ‘social network’ by hitting 500 contacts on Linkedin (Yeah! I made it) and 400 ‘friends’ on Facebook (only two away), and 100 Facebook “likes” for our 5 writers Facebook page:
We’re only at 78 likes so far, which isn’t half bad since it has only been up for two weeks, but I’d really, really like it if you’d ‘like’ it.
Do you even know what I’m talking about?
I hope not!
Then there’s the small problem of the novel I promised to write, from scratch, in just 5 months. And this WordPress blog I jointly administer with the other 5 members of my writing group:
So, let’s just say I’ve been busy.
Busy posting on Facebook and Linkedin, busy building our audience for the blog (so we can get a following and look important and interesting and appear “social networking savvy” by the time we all finish our novels).
Oops! The novel. I almost forgot. I think I got distracted.
Gone are the days of pad of paper and pen. Gone are the days of the trusty black Remington with it’s cute little round keys. No, today’s writer uses ‘writing software’! Storymill and Scrivener are the two top contenders. So of course I had to spend hours researching and test driving both.
Result: We started our writing challenge on September 5th. Today, September 25th, I’ve yet to write the first word of “Chapter One”.
But you can sympathize can’t you? I’ve been distracted.
I think I mentioned that during our summers on Bowen Island, we didn’t have a phone, nor did we have TV. We may have had a transistor radio, but if we did, (and my recollection is hazy on this) I don’t recall listening to it – didn’t give two hoots about the darn thing. But we did have books and magazines. Life magazine (I recall that I liked to look at the pictures of the Kennedys); Time magazine, (I don’t remember looking much at that one) and the odd comic book, (Archie and Veronica, I think).
But mostly I remember books! Bowen Island had a small library and, as a family, we gobbled them up like turkey dinner. Every night, after the sun set and my eight year old brother played taps on his new trumpet (the somewhat off key notes echoing over the bay), my mother would read to us. She was a highly literate, educated woman with a beautiful voice and great dramatic inflection. I remember she read so well that she was even invited to make recordings of books for the blind. (They didn’t sell ‘audio-books’ back then). But for us, her gift was personal. And there, on Bowen Island, under a full moon and the buzz of the more-than-occasional mosquito, as she read chapter after chapter of The Hardy Boys, I fell in love with books.
I don’t think I’ve sufficiently reflected on the power of my mother’s ‘gift’ to me. It was her gift that led me to become a writer. She died when I was just 21, before I was even really interested in writing.
So tonight, as the moon rises over Bowen Island, I’m going to think about my mother and about her gift and I’m going to make a promise to her. Tonight, I am NOT going to be distracted.
Tonight, I am going to read. Tonight, I am going to write.
Thanks Mom, for reminding me there is a simpler way to live our lives and for the gift of ‘The Hardy Boys’.