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Something to be said for being out of touch

After four or five days of blistering heat -- hot in the morning, hot all day and hot at night -- Thursday, July 5th, dawned cool, clear and calm, a beautiful, refreshing morning. For someone who is retired, unemployed, on vacation, or just taking a break, it was a morning to sit on the deck, drink a cup of coffee, look out at the lake and listen to the crows (those bright creatures) squawk and scold one another. It was a morning to be out of touch.

The thought of being out of touch can apparently be terrifying to many. How often have we seen idiots driving and talking on their cell phones, maybe even to other idiots driving and talking on their cell phones, or even worse, idiots driving and texting to other idiots driving and texting. But they're not out of touch, they're in touch with minute to minute details, I'm sure, about very, very important matters, maybe even about medical emergencies.

This would be none of my business if it weren't for the fact they're a scary hazard on the streets and highways. You've heard phones ring at funerals and at concerts. You've seen folks texting at ball games or even during conversations WITH YOU. Don't interrupt please -- it's probably a matter of life or death.

I don't wish to be critical of the brilliant, innovative means for ordinary people to communicate today. Truly, the current technology is awesome in its application and potential. But yes, I'm out of touch.

There is something to be said for being out of touch from time to time, however. Especially, in my view, for kids growing up. We don't do them any favors by programming their lives 24/7 as they grow up. A kid ought to have time to sit alone somewhere and scratch in the dirt with a stick. I remember walking past a school playground on a summer day and seeing just one kid in the playground on a carousel, turning slowly with one leg and lying there with his head over the edge, watching the ground go by and just dreaming. I was convinced that what that kid had going was better for him at that moment than anything that could have been planned or organized by any parent, counselor or committee.

Driving the roaring traffic of Interstate 94 last week, I looked up at a ridge at the edge of somebody's yard and saw two comfortable lawn chairs where the folks who lived there could just sit and see nothing but the cars and trucks whiz by and the trees on the other side of the four-lane highway. It wasn't the scene I'd pick, but it looked like a perfect place for two people to be out of touch while everybody else was in a hurry.

I heard a respected journalist and TV commentator tell about going out on his porch and looking at a 125-year-old oak tree for hours. He knew something good was happening for him. He told about a friend who was asked about how he spent an evening.

The friend said, "I sat and watched it get dark."

There are tools for getting out of touch: hammocks, chairs facing rivers, lakes, oceans, hills, mountains, highways, wheat fields, 125-year-old oak trees, bonfires, piles of rocks and there are sticks for scratching in the dirt. Pick one, use it and send me an immediate e-mail to tell me all about it.