There is a beautiful and brilliant young woman who lives near Raleigh, North Carolina who has talked about me and my wife, Leah, for years. Her name is Tiffany, the firstborn of our four offspring, and I cannot argue with her evaluation of her dear parents relative to one thing. She says we are easy to entertain and seems to find even more amusement in the fact that we constantly entertain ourselves in the simplest ways. She’s right about us. Even though they are fun, it really doesn’t take a three-ring circus or a 300-million dollar movie with mind-boggling special effects to make our day. The simple pleasures of life do entertain us and we like it that way.
I’m not technologically ignorant or even remotely renitent to enjoying the amazing array of gadgets and devices at our fingertips in this supersonic age. Life is great with a glass of iced tea, my laptop, and a fresh set of batteries in the remote. Sometimes I wonder how I survived as long as I did without my smartphone, and I have a genuine affection for wifi and addresses that end with .com.
Every time I visit anyone who has just had a triple bypass I am reminded of how very thankful I am for technological and medical advances. It seems like almost everything in our bodies can be replaced now and the older I get the more I support moving forward with research to find even more ways to make life better for us all.
But I honestly wonder if this generation, while experiencing some magnificent pleasures attributable to an ever-increasing inventory of amazing devices of entertainment, hasn’t been deprived of the immeasurable beauty of the simple.
I genuinely feel sorry for kids today. I’m really not all that old but I remember how very much I enjoyed it when our family took trips. My maternal grandparents were commercial fishermen on the Texas Gulf Coast and my paternal grandparents were in the ministry in Florida. Our vacations were always to see family and I still treasure the memories of watching the magnificent countryside gliding past the rolled down windows of our family sedan as we made those magnificent journeys. A 21st century kid climbs into an SUV with dark tinted windows, puts headphones on and makes the journey to Grandma’s without seeing anything but 3 movies on the overhead DVD player.
I know parents think the built-in HD babysitter is a godsend but I wonder if today’s young people aren’t being deprived of an appreciation for the simpler things that are incomparably capable of bringing pleasure and fulfillment to a human heart. I don’t mean to sound judgmental but I wonder if this consuming isolationist passion for personal entertainment isn’t one of the contributing factors to many of the relationship problems our society is experiencing? It may be easier and more convenient than having conversation but at what cost?
I am not advocating a return to yesteryear. I don’t want to be without today’s marvelous toys. I don’t want my black and white TV back and I can’t imagine a day without my ipod. But there’s a lot to be said for the simple pleasures of reading a good book, baking cookies for your elderly shut-in neighbor, playing catch in the back yard, or taking a leisurely walk through the park.
There are so many wonderful things to experience that aren’t glittery and flashy. Our world is really a spectacular place to visit and it pains me to think that so many will wake up some day and realize they missed it while trying to satisfy an insatiable appetite for being entertained by some apparatus that will be obsolete before they get it figured out.
It’s that time of the year when everybody’s making their list and checking it twice. In a few weeks we will be giddy with excitement as we strip away the brightly-colored paper from our under-the-tree bounty and I’m wondering if we will be able to handle the disappointment if it’s not the latest and greatest model that the advertisements say we can’t live without?
Life is short no matter how long you live. Maybe the time is now for us to experience the joy that comes from simply slowing down and taking a look around at the pleasure and beauty that is so simply and readily accessible. You may not agree with anything I’ve said, but I column as I see ‘em.
Eddy Prince is the senior pastor at Grace Fellowship Church. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .