It was one of those delightful summer Saturdays with cloudless blue skies, buckets of sunshine and comfortable warm temperatures. Due to recent severe weather activity with accompanying high winds, many in the neighborhood were out gathering fallen branches and debris and stacking it out by the curb for the street department to pick up. Traffic was scarce with the locals opting to walk or ride bikes. Children played on the sidewalk and groups of aimless teenagers slunked around the neighborhood.
As I worked in the yard, one such group of foot-draggers emerged from the alley next to my house. Unused to performing ninety degree right turns, this cohort opted instead for a softer forty-five degree angle across my front lawn. From my vantage point in the bushes where I was pulling weeds and gathering debris, I could have barked at them to “Get off my lawn!” and scared the living daylights out of them. However, as tempting as that was, it’s just not my style and it just wasn’t one of those days.
It was a day for taking it slow, for hearing laughter in the wind, for observing streaks of sunlight flickering through the trees, for unexpectedly intercepting the aroma of a distant backyard grill. There is truly something surreal about days like these. Time slows. Space is deep-focused and static. Noticeably absent is the relentless barrage of stimuli that mark most afternoons. Even the temperamental teens had pocketed their phones and were just enjoying each other’s company. It could have been 25 years ago. It could have been 50 years ago. Hell, if there weren’t a bunch of shiny metal boxes sitting in the street, it could have been over a hundred years ago.
However, somewhere beyond the tranquil scene lay an unseen realm. If at that moment I could observe it, I’d probably notice unremitting algorithms passing over my head, demanding care and attention. I would hear sniping voices, users getting ‘owned’ and people presuming the worst and often getting it from one another. An illusory world casting a dark shadow over our psyches, while increasingly vomiting its madness into the real world.
Thankfully, I was far away from that chaotic place, and all I could think about was how remarkable and strange it is to be alive and standing beneath the sun and these trees in this perfect moment of stillness and peace, while a group of foot-dragging teenagers walked across my lawn.