Two little girls enjoying nature in the forest, near spring creek water. Nothing beats the hands-on fun of childhood. (Adobe Stock Images)
I remember, as a child, playing outside all day during the summer. Growing up in a residential area in Levittown, it was a kids’ paradise. I was a “hands on” kind of kid. If there was a frog, a snake or a turtle in my yard, I’d have to pick it up and examine it more closely. My dad even made my brother and me an awesome terrarium out of wood and screens. It was big, a great temporary enclosure for my backyard pets. We made a little pond and put branches and leaves in it so our “guests” would feel at home. It was a great way to get to know them.
Back then there was no Google to look up the specifics of our reptilian residents. We had to look (gasp!) in books or ask people in the know, such as parents or teachers or friends. We researched until we found the information we needed. We were immersed in the hands-on experience of learning by doing.
I was just that way, a tomgirl for sure. I was at home climbing trees, stomping in the creek nearby (if you’re truly a local, you’d pronounce that “crick!”), riding my bike or playing any sport I could get my hands on. I was perpetual motion!
Our local creek held unlimited treasures for my friends and me. Crayfish lurked under rocks, minnows swam by, turtles and frogs galore tried to evade our little hands. We also pulled some man-made treasures out of that creek. There was a spot, further down a ways, that people seemed to use as a dump for larger items. I remember salvaging old tricycles, kids’ riding toys and bikes, and refurbishing them, or better yet, taking them apart to build some great go-carts.
We didn’t have instructions, there were no YouTube videos to show how to make brakes, or make steerable front wheels. We did not have Tik Tok to demonstrate the consequences of not assembling it properly. We had trial and error! We had ingenuity and elbow grease. And we had FUN.
These days it seems everyone, from age 2 on up, is immersed in their phones. Do they see that beautiful sunset? Only through the lens of their cameras or the image they posted on social media. I know it is very tempting to try to get that perfect picture of a wonderful scene. But what happened to the simple joy of just watching the sun go down?
I’m just as guilty as everyone else. But instead of taking pictures of my dog, I try to enjoy time together by playing with her. It gets me moving, and her as well. Life moves too fast. She is one of a long line of wonderful dogs I’ve had all my life — they are with us for far too little time. So instead of photographing her, I want to capture the image of her enjoying life, romping, running and chasing that ball, in my heart instead of on my camera. She’s a hands-on kind of girl too! My perfect match.
I know that life now is based on tech. And of course, for the most part, it is a great asset, and a wonderful tool. But sometimes, it’s a good idea to put that tool down, and actually live a tactile life. Walk barefoot through the grass or smell the lilac bush or the roses. Watch a sunset or a sunrise, without taking out a camera.
Don’t check to see how many “likes” you got on your last post throughout the day. Life is out there. And it moves pretty quickly. Because it feels like just yesterday, I was in my 20s, and tomorrow, I’ll be in my 70s.
So, I am attempting to return to a tactile life. Working in the gardens, playing with the dog, going for walks — and not capturing it on my phone. Wish me luck, because it’ll be a tough habit to break. But I know tactile will beat tech.