My Weekly Musings #10/2010
I had a Writing Club for Children for years before we moved to Egypt. A few of you reading here had children attending, or may even have attended yourself. (I hope at least some of my old students read my blog.) I enjoyed it immensely and plan to revive the clubs when we are back home. Not only did I enjoy teaching writing to the children who were in my groups, but I enjoyed learning from them.
One of a series of workshops we did in in The Writing Club, was journal writing. These workshops were preceded by a lesson on daydreaming. My first two writing clubbers were home schoolers* who grew up on a smallholding and whose mom raised them to question things and gave them playtime. They made the lesson fun and easy and it became my favourite workshop of all.
With the next generation of clubbers it was a different ball game. They were only a bit younger than my first club members, but these days behaviour can change very quickly. The main difference between the two groups was that technology became more advanced and more easily available – and was quickly becoming popular toys for children rather than only work tools for adults.
I found this workshop to become more of a challenge every year. My first group simply listened to what I taught them and followed my guidelines to go home and spend some time deliberately doing nothing, while daydreaming a bit. But with the next groups, l suddenly found myself looking into pairs of eyes looking at me in confusion and perplexity. I got reactions like “How do you daydream?” and “l don’t have time to do nothing, because I have too many schoolwork and activities.” It saddened me that these words came out of the mouths of ten and eleven year olds.
Initially, when these children from the second ‘wave’ started writing stories, l could identify their story lines from the movies they watched. They couldn’t dream up their own stories. Thankfully that changed with time, practice and skill development.
I was shocked at these little person’s reaction, because as a child, daydreaming came as second nature (or in my case – first nature) to me (and all of my friends), but of course times and circumstances have changed and I can’t help to feel a bit sorry for our privileged children today. It is not all their fault. Technology is fantastic. I love it. I love gadgets and apps. And I have to admit that I too am addicted to my phone. Even if I try to spend less time using it and more time doing ‘real life’ stuff, I struggle to get out of my virtual reality. Because these days, one’s whole life is in your phone. My books are on there and so is a lot of my entertainment. And there’s a camera and some memories and – because we live abroad – my family and friends are in there too. It is difficult not to lose oneself in the virtual world. And with that, l realised that I struggle to be creative if it is not on an electronic device. My hands had become impractical. My imagination had become useless as a pencil with a broken point. Maybe that is why I reverted to writing weekly blogs instead of finishing my novel.
I sometimes wonder if people still daydream? Through daydreaming we learn a lot about ourselves. When I look around and see young people (and older ones) hovering over phones, worsening their bad posture, I can’t help wondering if this wonderful technology we have, will not do more bad than good. If one reads statuses and comments on social media, you have to wonder where common sense had gone. The more knowledge we have available, the less knowledgably we seem to get.
I sat behind a family at a wedding in The Netherlands last year. The seven or so year old boy was glued to a phone, playing a game during the service, his neck eerily bent in a very unnatural way. I could imagine him at 19, walking like an old man. While waiting at an optometrist’s room in New Zealand a few weeks ago, a boy younger than two years was playing games on an iPad, so engrossed in the little device that he almost fell off the chair he was sitting on. Whenever one sits in a restaurant, you see people having coffee with one another, while in conversation with other people elsewhere through their phones. What is the point of going out with someone if you are conversing with someone else the whole time?
We are certainly living in a strange world that is getting stranger every day. It is a world where the real makes room for the virtual increasingly. It is becoming a place where I can testify first-hand how I am becoming less and less social, while spending more and more time ‘engaging with’ a little device that doesn’t love me, can’t talk to me or listen to my feeling and cannot hug me. And it quite scares me, because even if I try, I fall back into the bad habit of spending hours per day on it every time. I keep telling myself it will be better when we are back home again and closer to everyone and everything we miss. I really hope so. In the meantime, I will try my best to spend less time in the virtual and more in the real. I miss my daydreaming and my creativity. I want my hands to become usable again.
Do you still daydream? Do you take time to just sit and do nothing? Or are you also a victim of your busy schedule and the little thing in your hand that keeps you awake at night and can’t hug you back? Tell me if you feel you want to. And in the meantime, read a book printed on real paper, plant a herb (and don’t forget to water it regularly), talk to your spouse while having a glass of something special over a home-cooked candlelight dinner, look in your child’s eyes when he or she talks to you and go lie on the grass somewhere and stare at the clouds and dream…
* In case you thought that those first home schoolers were idlers: They moved to England with their parents for a while. The boy joined the British Air Force teen cadets. They moved back to South Africa, went to public schools and the girl went to work and travel abroad and is now back and studying in Stellenbosch. The boy had become an engineer, got married and builds and flies those little drones (or quad copters I presume they are called.) The little sister who later joined the club with our son, was a good daydreamer too and is finishing her public school education this year.
You can like and/or follow The Writing Club/Die Skryfklub on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thewritingclubdieskryfklub/
© Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock
Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopeful Writer. Forever dreamer. Temporarily living in Cairo, Egypt.
My children’s’ book, Yeovangya – a Princess’ Quest for True Love, and short stories are available at https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=riette+de+kock&rh=n%3A154606011%2Ck%3Ariette+de+kock