When did you last see someone sitting and doing absolutely nothing?
Yesterday as we were driving into the city I noticed the people at bus stops busily typing on their mobile phones. Not a single person was sitting and doing nothing while they waited. This got me thinking. When do people let their minds out for a wander these days? A pure unadulterated wander with no purpose? I'm thinking the only place this happens is in the shower. I am totally guilty of this. My "thinking" time has now been replaced with tweeting and SMS'ing and emailing. Until they make a shower proof mobile, the shower is the last bastion of nothingness for me.
Doing nothing seems to be a dying art. This scares me, a lot. What if people like Einstein and Leonardo Da Vinci didn't have thinking time? Do you think they would have been as clever as they were? Would they have sat and imagined the things they did if they were constantly typing on their iPhone or watching television? What would our world be like today if these amazingly clever people were constantly plugged into something other than their imagination?
I grew up in the country. We had two television stations, one black and white television, no telephone, no computer ... often there were endless days of doing nothing. I recall many a day doing nothing but lying on my bed and thinking. I would think about endless things. How big will my boobs grow? Who I was going to marry? What would I be when I grew up? Who my real mother was? Would look more attractive with braces? How would I make the boy up the road notice me? Why aren't my boobs growing faster? When will I have my first kiss?
Some days I would climb a tree with nothing but a book. I would read and then I would just sit. I'd look around and imagine things. I'd imagine what it would be like to live in a different family. I would imagine that perhaps I was the daughter of a princess. I would imagine what life would be like if I was richer, more beautiful, more popular. Other times I would just sit there and think of nothing while watching everything going on around the neighbourhood.
I have two teenage boys. They are always connected to something. An iPhone, a computer, an iPod or the telephone. There is always a television or a radio on. They never sit in the bliss of absolute nothingness. They would not find this blissful. They would find it disconcerting. They would be anxious. They would be looking for something to quickly connect to. It makes me sad. It makes me wonder what they could be if they had time to use their imaginations.
When they were younger they had plenty of time to use their imaginations. They played with toys and played games with each other outside that involved thinking and improvising. That seems like a long time ago now. From the time they were ten this new digital age had arrived and all of a sudden they never had to improvise again. They became plugged in. I feel like I've let them down somewhat. I should have been stricter with their online time. I should have encouraged more book reading. I shouldn't have let them have a television in their bedroom. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Do you ever stop and wonder where is this digital age taking us? What will become of books? Will the new generation have an imagination? Will there be the wonderful storytellers of this generation and previous generations? Will there be a Jane Austen of the 21st Century? Will someone from Generation Z have an imagination big enough to write wonderful books? Will there be whimsy? Will there ever be another Enid Blyton?
What do you think?