My Instagram tribe is a carefully chosen group of outdoor adventurers and world travelers. I voyeur on carefully selected moments in sailors, spear fishermen, surfers, sages, spiritualists, and general hippie beach bum’s lives. I’m often blown away by some of their posts.
Yes, it’s life porn. I’m keenly aware that these snapshots are the high points and include none of the mundane. It is only a few seconds of their entire week or month, but at one level, that IS the point.
Hit me with what I’m not experiencing in my life for a few seconds and I’ll hit you back with one of my high points. It’s a win-win. It’s a voyeuristic high five between two souls showing something that they consider amazing. That is the positive side.
The bad may outweigh the good, however.
Last night I was scrolling through my feed and a short video of a whale breaching stopped my scroll.
It was a gnarly majestic humpback. The whale’s 66,000 pound body broke the surface at a speed that exposed 75% of her body’s mass above the ocean’s lid. The photographer was on a stand up paddle-board with 3 of his friends inside his camera’s gaze. These three were perhaps, 15 feet away from the cresting humpback. The dark creature arched in the air with a slight twist of its mammoth body, then gravity took hold and pulled the animal back home, piercing the ocean’s surface with a graceful violence.
The shock resulted in an upsurge of water that hurled all those nearby up into the air, boards, paddles and all. It was breathtaking. I watched it over and over in pure AWE. To be there, to experience that…It was an AWE-some thought.
My first instinct was to share it with my family. My wife wasn't home, but my 2 youngest girls were in their rooms doing homework.
I made quick time to their rooms, burst through the door and exclaimed, “you have to see this!” The three of us huddled around my phone and I scrolled to the video. As they watched it, I watched their faces, on the ready to catch them if they fell off their chairs in astonishment.
What happened next saddened me. Because what happened was… NOTHING!
My youngest looked at me and said, in the most monotone voice you can imagine, “cul” and went back to her homework. Her sister, walked away, back to her bed with the comment, “ya, seen stuff like that before.”
And it hit me right there in my daughter’s bedroom…We have completely lost all sense of AWE. It’s literally gone! Very little inspires AWE within us anymore.
Thinking back to my youth, I remember my grandfather giving me a Christmas present of an Ant Farm. It was simply two pieces of glass positioned parallel, a half inch apart, in a wooden frame that he’d built.
I immediately went outside, filled it with dirt and caught about 20 ants and placed them in their new home. Within hours they had started to build intricate tunnels. A few days later the tunnels were a complex labyrinth.
I put a sugar cube and a wet piece of cloth in the farm to keep them nourished.
The next day found me daydreaming at school about those tiny creatures with their amazing tunnels. I wanted to build tunnels like that and live with my friends in them. I couldn't wait to get home from school to see what new rooms and hideaways they had built.
I told my friends about it in school and they wanted to come over and see. They did. We watched for a long while together in AWE.
After quite some time, someone in the group asked, “hey, what should we do?” Someone else piped up, “let’s build a fort!” It was the perfect suggestion, we didn't have to agree on it, we were all walking out of the house without saying a word, just excited for the adventure.
I built several forts growing up. They were no more than a fallen branch from a tree that we would add a few more limbs to so that we could “live” behind a protective barrier. Sometimes we would take a blanket to make it truly impenetrable.
I couldn't tell you what we did behind those sacred fort enclosures, no memory stands out, but I remember how we loved it. It was amazing. We’d brag about our fort to the other kids at school and they would want to see it. It never disappointed.
As we got older, our dreams turned to a tree-house. Again, It didn't take much, a few pieces of scrap wood and you had a tree fort.
We were amazed by life. It was full of wonder.
It isn't that life has become boring, not in the least bit, the ants are still there.
But flip the page to the 2017 digital life and you can see that we have allowed a new drug into our lives and it numbs us!
Our senses have been overloaded to the point that it takes a lot of input to impress us now. And just like drug junkies, we need more and more input to feel the same thing we did a year ago. The wonders of life that we have been gifted by the creator of the universe bore us now.
And many of us who live in big cities, far from nature, really have it bad, because our only experience with nature is through a digital device of some kind. All city dwellers see is what man has made, the concrete jungle.
So what is the harm? I suggest that the damage is this…
1. We are losing touch with reality
2. We are eliminating our connection with something bigger than us (what we name God or Allah, Vibrational Energy, the Universe, the Divine, the Creator or in Atheist’s case — that power that they don’t believe in).
I believe that these two things are foundational for a society to survive and be happy.
Here is a quick test to see if you are a junkie in need of intervention.
If things on this list below don’t put your mind in a state of awe and wonder when you experience them…I would suggest you are far down the path of a media junkie.
· Sunrise and sunset.
· A waterfall.
· Birds flying in the V formation.
· Picking a ripe piece of fruit directly from the tree.
· A fish jumping out of the water to catch a mosquito.
· A piece of meat wrapped in plastic wrap in the grocery store. Yes, we have lost touch with the fact that some animal gave its life so that we can live. It is sacred, but we don’t see it anymore, completely desensitized as we huck it in our wobbly wheeled cart and press on.
Just like the drug addict needs a little more each time to get the same high, media and information penetrates our minds with so much stimuli, that nothing is getting us high on life anymore.
Travis Pastrana and his Nitro circus are forced to push the limit to get butts in the seats. A back flip on a motorcycle was not even conceivable when I was growing up. We measured our BMX bike jumps in inches. James Foster now does a triple back flip.
A 19 year old Australian named Jackson Strong landed a front flip and few (outside of his x game competitors and judges) were AWE-struck.
To pull that stunt off, he has to slam on his front brake at the perfect moment, measured in milliseconds, at the top edge of a nearly vertical ramp at 50+ miles per hour, throwing his bodyweight forward, against the natural momentum created by the jump angle, as he flies some 30+ feet above the ground. “Kinda cul, I guess.”
Here is the problem…the people that are DOING are being stimulated by facing their fears, by stretching their skills. The rest of the world is sitting on their asses, staring at screens, overstimulated into oblivion. Where is this leading? Nobody knows, but logically, with drug addiction as our guide, not to a good place.
Life is amazing. It hasn't lost its wonder, we have merely become desensitized and overstimulated. We need to rip the IV delivering this drug out of our hands.
Think about it, take action in your life.
Life is AWE-some.