Arica, Braden and I enjoyed a simple pleasure of life last night. It was so simple and so enjoyable that it almost defies any possible explanation.
Ours is an instant gratification society. We have everything we ever need right at our fingertips at all times. We have access to everything online. We have games, movies, recorded shows on the DVR. There is an endless array of entertainment vehicles at our disposal.
I sometimes even find myself hurrying to get to everything I want to enjoy. Hurry up so we can watch the Netflix movie that came in today. Hurry up so we can get to our TV shows before I fall asleep. Hurry. Hurry. Hurry.
It is so easy now to skip out on simple conversation with family and friends. It seems that being neighborly is often a thing of the past as well. We hurry to our next meeting or the next event on our busy social calendar. This is how we live our lives.
We had a wonderful reminder last night of what can be truly joyful in life. Our family was invited to a cookout at our next door neighbor Jim's house. He lives alone. He has lived in the U.S. for over 30 years while all his family remains in Japan. This past week Jim's brother and his brother's wife have been visiting. Our neighbor and friend wanted to thank us for feeding his animals by having us over.
It was simply a wonderful evening. Jim and his family speak very little English, but it was a lot of fun to talk with them about their lives and experiences anyway. They were so kind and the food was so good.
Jim's brother broke out the harmonica and played several songs after dinner. We all laughed and sang along as Braden danced. Braden played with the cat and made a new friend in Jim's sister in-law. She was like his Japanese Grandma.
Japanese Grandma spoke zero English, but Braden loved her anyway. He grabbed her by the hand and led her off to play. Small children can certainly teach us a lesson in these situations about seeing the heart of a person rather than their outside appearance. The language of caring and love is much more important than English or Japanese.
During this entire time no TV, radio, or other modern entertainment device was ever turned on. There was no texting, no facebook, not even a simple phone call.
We were all so deeply involved in a wonderful conversation that it would have taken a tornado siren to drag us away anyway. I hope as Braden gets older we can continue to find ways to teach him about the joy of meeting people and the joy of seeing other cultures.
As life gets faster and faster in the years to come I think it will be even more important to remember how to slow down, simplify life, and get in touch with one another.