This week was very unusual for me. While plenty was happening around the world and across our land, within our family, nothing out of the ordinary happened. No holidays, celebrations or guests; no illness or crises. While time often seemed to drag when I was a child, as an adult the weeks usually speed by as if on a dizzying roller coaster. Next week, a crowded calendar beckons once more, but this week was blissfully clear.
I actually managed to look at my non-urgent-to-do list and methodically worked my way through parts of it. I trashed a pair of hole-ridden slippers and a three-decade-old pot that desperately needed to retire and replaced them. I added cuffs to a dress and replaced the battery in my phone. I organized photos for a Grandma Camp project, exercised, and, to my husband’s delight, made supper every night.
This unusual spurt of activity led me to drop in at stores I don’t often frequent and also to spend time browsing online. I found myself caught in a shopping conundrum that is new for our time. I went to a craft store hoping that browsing the aisles might stoke my creative juices as well as to get advice on the best adhesive to use for a particular undertaking. I was confronted by a befuddling array of glues. Asking the young salesgirl to explain the difference between two products resulted in her shrugging her shoulders and telling me that she had no idea. She was probably a summer hire and could just as easily have been selling hammers or ice cream. I went home, did some online research reading buyers’ reviews of the various products and ordered.
With very different results, I visited a small, locally owned sewing store seeking a backing fabric for some embroidery. The saleslady there directed me to choices and joined in the hunt, getting excited with me when we found something that made the design pop. Being out and around provided a stimulation of its own and while I wouldn’t want to be at the mall regularly, physically walking into stores reminded me of the diverse population that lives around me.
College professors decry the tendency of students to watch class lectures online while mental health professionals on campus warn of depression accentuated by spending little time with fellow students. Brick and mortar businesses are closing, unable to compete with their own on-line platforms as well as those of competitors. Online options are often cheaper, more numerous and don’t need you to find a parking place. You can order at any time you have available even if briefly sandwiched between other obligations.
Yet, we lose something when our lives revolve around a computer rather than around each other. French schools are outlawing phones in elementary schools, deciding that playing at recess should involve something other than each student staring at his or her individual screen. I don’t think we can regulate adults in the same way, but I, for one, would be sorry to see commerce move entirely online. This relaxed and laid back week reminded me of the balancing act we tread as technology affords us unprecedented options that easily fool us into thinking that we are surrounded by people, even as we, alone, sink more deeply into our couches.
I am looking forward to next week with its frenetic schedule and a full house. As exhausting as it all can sometimes be, God created us for interpersonal connection and I well know that a quiet week is only enjoyable because it is unusual.
P.S. If you are interested in children, education or homeschooling, I hope you’ll check out my new Practical Parenting section. This week’s latest posts are: Why Did You Pick Sonlight?, What Are You Really Teaching?, and Should I or Shouldn’t I?