There are some questions I’d like to ask you. How many gadgets or devices, such as the computer/tablet/smartphone you’re using to read this post, do you own? How many apps have you downloaded onto your phone? How much time do you spend using them each day? How many social networks are you on? How often do you check them each day? When was the last time you had a picture taken with friends or family that wasn’t a selfie? When was the last time you had a conversation with your neighbours? What expensive or designer accessories, such as Beats headphones or Hunter boots, do you have? How did you feel when you’re using or wearing them when you’re out? At what point in your life did you start worrying about debts, jobs, how to get promoted, getting paid more, becoming successful?
Now take a step back, and look at your answers to those questions. Then, I’d like you to have a look at This Is Not My Brooklyn, written by Vanessa Martir.
In her post, she wrote about how her Brooklyn was different from the Brooklyn people talked about nowadays. Her Brooklyn is the one before gentrification, where it reminds people of poverty, filth, dilapidation. But her Brooklyn is also the one where neighbours would gather in a backyard and just talk with each other; her Brooklyn is where kids are free to run down the streets or climb a plum tree; her Brooklyn is where they don’t care what religion, race, or gender you are.
Does it sound familiar?
Her Brooklyn could have been your London, your friend’s Berlin, your parents’ Toronto, your grandparents’ Paris. When we look at what’s around us now, you may be amazed by the technological advancements we’ve made, the economic developments we’ve built, the political stability we’ve attained. But, have we lost something while we are busy lining up for the newest iPhone, swiping on Tinder, calculating how much money is left after paying bills, socializing with clients to reach the commission, impressing your superior so you’d get the next promotion, reading books on how to become a millionaire, or simply, figuring out how to provide a better quality of life for your family?
I’m not anti-tech or anything. To the contrary, I appreciate all the improvements we, human, as a species, have made. It has never been easier to snap and send a photo to my friends in Europe in a blink of an eye, or to connect with people around the world, including you. The word “success” has been emphasized in our time more than ever. Everyone around me is trying to pursue their dreams. These are good things, but, are these the only things that life is all about, the only things that matter?
I’d like to ask you some more questions. What was your favourite board game that you’d like to play all day long with your buddies? What was the last bedtime story your parents told you/you told your kids? How many friends did you have before Facebook was invented? How did you get in touch with your friends before you got a phone? When was the last time you held your parents’/spouse’s/kids’ hands and asked them about their day?
Sometimes, we get so busy with our lives that we forget to stop and look into the eyes of the people we care, we focus on our goals to success so much that we forget our competitors are human, are one of us too. We don’t need more barriers to separate us from “outsiders” when we already have countless keeping us from having quality interactions with our loved ones.
When you’re trying to figure out how to better you or your family’s quality of life, sometimes all we need is just a casual conversation, a hug, a cuddle on the sofa while watching TV with a tub of ice cream or a bowl of popcorn, a goodnight kiss on the forehead. There’s no ending to the pursuit of better or best, but there’s an expiration date on all of us.
Next time, when someone asks you those questions about your favourite board game or the bedtime story, I hope your answers will no longer be in past tense.
Inspired by “This Is Not My Brooklyn”, written by Vanessa Martir.
Another inspirational read: A Little Improv Can Go a Long Way with Dementia, by Diana
An interesting take on DST: Yes, I’ll Defend Daylight Saving Time, by Michael Church
Let’s end the day with some edible cuteness: Tsum Tsum deco steamed cakes bento, by Jean