What is fascinating you right now? Is there anything you are pondering or thinking about that keeps coming to mind?
My friend has been teasing me that now that my schedule is emptier I’ll learn what boredom feels like. Perhaps that will be true eventually; but at the moment, there are so many thoughts I haven’t had time to think because all of my brain power was dedicated to a few subjects for so long that I am far from boredom at the moment.
One thing I just can’t get over lately is that when God created us he covered us in an organ that is made up of cells that have the sensation of touch. It’s fascinating to me that He created us with the ability to feel with the back of our heel and with our armpit equally as well as we can feel with our fingertips or with our feet. My scalp has the same sensations that my belly button can experience. What a creative God! How beautiful that He designed us to experience the world so fully. I am marveling at the amazing gift of our skin and it’s ability to convey pain, pleasure, temperature, and so many other feelings.
I started pondering my skin because my nephew Jude and his friend Colby invited me to “watch some nature” with them and spend about thirty minutes watching a cicada shed its skin. We were all enthralled. I wish I could insert some of the hilarious video clips the boys and I took as we “watched some nature” together. Just take my word for it – it was an interesting thing to get to witness and to do so in their company heightened the enjoyment tenfold. Either Jude has an amazing depth of factual knowledge about cicadas; or he is incredibly convincing, and his auntie is gullible.
Another thing that is fascinating me is the phenomenon of the American Teenager. Fascinating creatures. My nephew is in his last year of middle school. I watched him recently “talking” with a friend. Their conversation was really interesting to observe. Picture two fourteen year olds sitting twenty feet apart. Boy texts girl and then glances up to see her response to his text. Girl reads the text and laughs. Girl texts boy back, looking up coquettishly to watch his response without being seen and has a look of satisfaction when boy laughs in return.
I was sharing about what a mystery teenage conversation is to me (this whole talking without talking thing is new to me) with a teacher friend. She’s in her mid-50s and has been teaching AP Literature for many years, so I consider her to have a pretty solid opinion on teenagers. She was laughing at me and shared that it’s true that teens have changed a lot, even just in the last five years. She said she used to enter her classroom and have to tell the students to stop their side conversations and focus as class began. Now she enters to a room that is silent because every student is on their phone. She has to tell them to put their phones away and engage.
We joked a while about how each generation is so different from the next and then she sobered and said something I am still thinking about. She said, “You know what my biggest fears for them are? Isolation and Individualization. Through social media and the ability to customize everything in their life to be as they prefer it, from the individualized music channel to the movies and TV streaming on demand, etc. they are spoon fed the ability to ‘have it their way’ all the time. By not conversing in person, they can perfect what they say to each other and not have to deal with the imperfection of human interaction. I worry about what will happen when they encounter something hard or find something that isn’t the way they prefer or, heaven forbid, if they need to compromise on something.”
Then she made a comment that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. She said, “I used to think that the best thing I was doing for students was equipping them to write a solid literary analysis or to understand the structure of a sonnet. Now I think that the most important thing I can do is to teach them what it means to be human and to equip them to engage in real human connection.”
Any of you with teenagers or teachers out there – what do you think about her observations? I find them to be incredibly intriguing, and they are informing my prayers this week for my brother and sister-in-law and friends who are raising teens and tweens, for my teacher friends, for the kiddos themselves. It’s an interesting societal moment to try and navigate with grace and wisdom when you’re just trying to survive puberty! I am thankful for wise adults like my friend who care deeply and who are discerning and understand our times, making adjustments to help their kids and students mature well.
My final fascination this week has been with the play Hamilton (thanks, Travis Hayes) which is coming to Omaha soon. I’ve heard such great things about it from so many friends, and Travis is quite persuasive as well, so I’ve decided to buy the expensive ticket and go. It’s been fun to learn more about the story and the musical itself.
Oh, all the thoughts we can think. What’s fascinating you this week?
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