Spent the long weekend this weekend in Nikko, Japan, a beautiful spot in the mountains. The air was fresh, the water cool, and the mountains green and lush with a hint of fall colors beginning. There were people in Nikko–tourists–but not as many as I thought. We wandered the temple grounds taking photos that were already perfectly framed by nature’s trees, moss, bushes and flowers. It was quiet and serene. We spent the night at a hostel called Zen hostel where the milky blue-green river rushing by the hostel was loud. And then the second day we took a hike along boardwalks through wetlands and meadows, past waterfalls and mountains. We met a few people along the trail and said our “Konichawas” but overall, it was quiet. At one point along the trail we talked about what we didn’t hear: people, traffic, phones, sirens, motorcycles.
I’ve been immersed in technology lately–blogging (like now), texting, Facebooking, tweeting, following, buying apps, keeping track of the world via technology. It’s stimulating and opens up a world. It’s opened up connections in other countries and to new ideas. Being out in the mountains this weekend, though, was calming. I walked hand-in-hand with my daughter through the forest while we told a story. My husband, daughter and I sat on benches and looked out at the world. It was quiet, connecting.
I’m torn and trying to find the right blend of connecting online and really connecting in person, with nature. I don’t think it’s one or the other, but balance is always hard. With this new impetus for online connectivity, I’ve got to lean more toward actual connectivity to strike a balance. I think it’s cultural too. In the cities in Japan, everyone is online, all the time. On the way to Nikko, I caught a very typical photo of a group of Japanese teenagers. See the photo below. On the way back on the train, I couldn’t take a photo, but sat next to a family with two young boys. They played a clapping, counting game for a good hour, laughing, joking. They didn’t once pull out a phone or technological device to break up their family time. It struck me as unique. I haven’t seen that for a while. After playing for a while, they dozed although the youngest kid squirmed and tried to keep his eyes closed like the rest of them. I looked at our own family then where my husband was on his i-pad scrolling through his Google reader. My daughter had on headphones and was watching a movie on my i-pad. I was reading a book. Back in civilization we were back to our usual escapes.
Just thoughts about keeping an eye and a connection to the world while sifting through the online networking world…