I was sitting at home this past Saturday morning, thinking of several ways to spend the day. I needed to do some things: a grocery run, dry cleaners, write, lay by the pool and soak up some rays, catch up on correspondence. But, rather than making the day about me, I decided instead to drive across town and visit someone who I’ve known my entire life. A man whose approaching ninety five years old, one of my dad’s best friends, a gentleman who showed interest in me ever since I was able to walk, a guy whose given far more to the world than it’s given him, a person who sold a beautiful home to live inside an elderly center and take care of his wife of over seventy years; a real man’s man, the last of a dying breed.
I could’ve sent him an e-mail, or phoned and talked for a while. But, I knew a face-to-face would go much further in expressing my feelings because he’s a man of simple thought, who doesn’t care about money at this stage of life, who values flesh-and-blood interaction over all the texts and e-mails in the world. Sure, because of his age, he’s not exactly of the technology generation, but he represents the way human interaction used to be, and how it still should be among those we truly care about.
When I walked inside his residence, his eyes lit up. He was really happy to see me. Not just because of who I was, but also because of the obvious connection to my father. We talked, laughed (he has a legendary sense of humor); he told me the same stories as last time. We reminisced about my childhood, his years of working with my dad, his kids and great-grandkids, his wife, and whatever else came to mind. It was a pleasant experience for both. But, here’s the thing, I gave him my time and effort, and giving these to someone can be more valuable than the priciest diamonds or shiniest bars of gold. I knew he appreciated what I did, and for him, exchanging it for any type of electronic communication or material possession wouldn’t have had near the same value.
We’re all busy; the era we’re living in now keeps even the laziest couch potato on their toes just trying to keep up. But, here’s the thing, when you think of those closest to you: those residing in your inner sanctum, your best and oldest friends, parents, grandparents, mate and any others you truly care about; wouldn’t you believe real interaction between you would go much further? Cause a better experience, than say, merely sending a text or e-mail?
Our society is becoming very passive when it comes to human interaction, especially among our youth. Smart phones and computers have literally taken over how we communicate. But, I’m somewhat of the old way-of-thought. I appreciate, and get far more pleasure out of actually sitting down with those I enjoy. Now, don’t get my wrong, I love technology and how it’s enhanced our lives. It’s priceless in business and convenience of use and I use it constantly. But, there comes a time when putting it down and going back to the basics is so rewarding. It pulls us out of the techno world and returns you into the sights, smells, and emotions of real life. And when we all leave this world someday, the actual interaction we share with others will remain in our memories forever, not the words among thousands we’ve shared inside a computers screen, those are quickly forgotten.
I hope as time goes by and technology goes even further, we don’t loose the joy of holding another’s hand, or that gleam in someone’s eyes when we say, “Its great seeing you, I love you, or let’s do this again soon.” That we don’t get to the point of flinching when actual contact is required, it’s looked upon as an unnecessary evil, or an experience we no longer desire or crave.
I hear it all the time how organizations are continually seeking out ways of doing business with the least amount of interactive effort. Just walk inside a bank or large retail store and ask for assistance. More than likely, you’ll be diverted to the self-service aisle, ATM, or other form of computerized robot. I know, it’s all about making the money, but for my dollar, I’d much rather have a friendly smile.
My time with my father’s friend was enjoyable, memorable, and something I’ll always have when his time on earth has passed. And I made it happen without the slightest help from a touch screen, keypad, or satellite above. It made me feel great knowing I made his day. And I’ll never regret doing the same with others.
Give your real time to someone you enjoy, the experiences will last a lifetime.