Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

There’s No App for That May 4, 2013

I got something in the mail recently I couldn’t keep from sharing. As I’ve previously mentioned, I recently attended first communion celebrations for two of my favorite little people. While I was not allowed in either church, the messages of love, hope and peace filtered their way directly into my little doggie heart through the conversations that followed.

Thank YOUI was reminded of those messages this week when I received thank you notes from princesses Sophie and Abigail thanking my parents and I for our gifts of money and jewelry. Just as my name had been included on the invitations, my name was included on the notes thanking us for coming to be part of their special days. I can honestly say I was absolutely touched by the sincerity of gratitude in the priceless little people handwriting of Sophie and Abigail.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life,” author Melody Beattie writes. “It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

These written words have an unspoken power to ignite my imagination and feed my soul. But they also bring to mind something about the written word itself. It is dying amidst our technologically savvy culture and it breaks my heart.

Every time the newspapers get thinner and smaller, I know that also means there are less people on staff to do the reporting, editing and layout. While e-books are enabling more writers to dip their ink in the wonderful world of publishing, gizmos like tablets and e-readers are encouraging people to opt for a paperback-free way of the future. And with the millions of apps and games, Smartphones are helping people around the word stay “connected.” Connected to what? Certainly not to each other, when it’s more convenient to use technology.

Why call when you can text message? Why write when you can e-mail? Why browse a library when you can buy the book with a click of a button?

I’ll tell you why. There is one very important thing people who buy too far into the technology are missing: the context of emotion. The vocal tone of a sentence can drastically alter its meaning, and good intentions can be so easily misinterpreted for sarcasm. Albeit, the majority of tech-savvy folks know that ALL CAPS MEANS YOU’RE YELLING, but a yell is meant to be heard not read. Sure, you can put a smiley emoticon (or a winky face, or a kissing face, or an undecided face) at the end of a text message, but that doesn’t come close to the impact of any of those emotions experienced in person. The thought that goes into a handwritten letter or thank-you note is unmatched by the autocorrect and spell check of word processors.

All the teeny tiny happy faces in the world can’t replace a real one. You can’t give someone a hug via e-mail. Herein lies the problem with our reliance on modern technology. Power to the people who still write thank you notes, send paper cards to family members on birthdays and anniversaries, and who read the newspaper. Call me old school, but getting those special little envelopes in the mail this week brought to light a serious problem with our continuously evolving technological society. Let us really stay connected by remembering the power of a hug or kiss can’t be felt through a text message. I will always be a supporter of local libraries and book stores. And (perhaps most important of all) there is no app for gratitude.

Related Articles:

Peace Be With You – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/04/21/peace-be-with-you/

Hope In Gratitude – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/01/14/hope-in-gratitude/

 

Hope in Gratitude January 14, 2013

Hope in GratitudeWriting can be a bit like life. Some days are like poetry, weaving experiences together in the most beautiful (albeit sometimes ironically morbid) of prose. Those days can be easier than others to write things worth reading. Other days are like the worst case of writer’s block. Nothing among the list of one’s ordinary function comes easy. Even waking up (or picking up a pen and paper) sounds absolutely impossible on “one of those days.”

Either way, I’m starting to notice how easy it is to find something to bring a ray of sunshine into even the cloudiest case of writer’s block. I say this because if its possible for a dog to have what humans refer to as “one of those days,” that was my life today. Instead of shattering a glass on the hardwood or breaking a nail (which I’ve heard can be quite painful for womenfolk), I struggled to find any inspiration in today.

Mom journeyed back to this place she calls work today. I missed her terribly. After all the time off for her leg surgery, I realize I’d gotten spoiled with people time during the day. But to make matters worse, I could tell things didn’t go well by her emotional state when she came home over her lunch break. And again when she came home from work well after the sun went down. And I will be the first to admit it: a tough day on her takes a toll on me. I can easily slip into a darker way of thinking, wishing more than anything I can somehow be that lantern of love I’ve pledged to be while at the same time not having any idea of how to light the match.

Then something hits me. A ray of sunshine makes its way through the cloudy darkness that is the blank screen or notepad mocking me with its silence. Today it was two things combining in perfect harmony, just like poetry coming together on the page: music and good writing. Two obvious things that inspire me (and lots of other thoughtful writers, poets and songwriters), but as I am embracing simplicity this year I find solace in (even) these most obvious of things. Miracles happen in simple moments like this.

I was reading today’s thoughts on Simple Abundance, which focus on finding specific things to be thankful for in even the cloudy days while listening to “Tell Me a Story” on Phillip Phillips’ album.

“Hope is just a ray of what everyone should see
alone is the street where you found me
scared of what’s behind you
and scared of what’s in front
live with what you have now
and make the best of what’s to come.”

Phillips sings to me his guitar-stringed thoughts on the world, and I find myself so grateful for his words that I want to share them with anyone who reads. Quite the paradox, since today’s Simple Abundance entry cites the thoughts of author Melody Beattie.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow,” she said.

Tantalizing little cursor on a blank screen? You’re no match for me. Trouble lighting the match for my lantern of love? Forget about it. There is hope in gratitude, even on a day like today.