Do you ever stop in a moment and look around you, suddenly realizing what magic is taking place? Last Sunday my little Vi—a toddler whose only home includes an elevator ride up to our 740 square feet—got to race down rows and rows of blueberry bushes. I watched her pluck blueberries off the branches and pop them into her mouth, again and again and again.
Vi was born into a world that is sleek and clean, all plastic and metal casings. Automatic sanitization and intangible music. Robotic vacuums and televisions on refrigerators. As much as our world offers in the way of access to technology, medical advancement, and scientific understanding, it lacks something.
There is hollowness in a life spent in front of a screen, to hands most familiar with the cold smoothness of plastic. It feels like a belly of spun sugar. I want more: warmth, dirt, danger, and fullness.
I worry, among billions of other things, about how this will affect her growing up. Will I be able to understand the obstacles she will face as she traverses the hell that must be living as a teenager in the time of ubiquitous social media? She will have the Uber of ten years from now at the touch of a button before she can drive. She will not know a time before I always had a phone/camera/portal-to-all-available-information in my pocket. She will have access to technology beyond anything we can imagine now—but will it make her life better?
There are things that we do the long way, taking no shortcuts, simply for the joy of doing them. There is happiness and lightness in making a mess, learning from your mistakes. Will she still fill her soul with the warmth of creating something new when the easiest solution could be delivered to her door, neatly shrink-wrapped with satisfaction guaranteed? Will she appreciate creation that is not measured by its perfection of alignment and square edges, but by the simple fact that she learned how to build it?
I like to think that she will. I like to imagine that she will have the best of both worlds. She will hold a spinning infinity of information in her pocket and know how to use it to increase the value of her life, her happiness, and her impact.
For now, I will encourage her to dig holes in the dirt and build castles in the sand. We will jump in puddles and eat blueberries off the branches. And when we take those blueberries home, we will make a crust from scratch solely so she can play in the flour and learn to crimp the edges.