Be careful what you wish for

Many moons ago, all I wanted to do was write professionally. Fresh from NYSC’s mandatory one-year stint, I was poised to show the world the stuff i was made of, one article at a time.

It took three months and a restructuring to get there; I was moved to the organisation’s communications department which was downsized from a five – man stronghold to just two – my supervisor and I.

And write I, we did.

Weekly business articles for two newspapers.
Content for the company’s website.
Text for the quarterly newsletter and annual report.
There were monthly updates sent to all the board members and volunteer consultants, instructors and mentors.
Inscriptions or whole paragraphs for company corporate gifts – Christmas cards, calendars, mugs, etc
Information for the brochures produced for every event- workshops, business forums, alumni social gatherings, annual activities, etc
A notice board duly updated with more words as appropriate.
Copy for promotional materials.
Letters. Letters. Letters.

This writing rampage took us from regular, functioning females to frenzied, frazzled workaholics.

We stayed late writing.

Weekends spent at home gradually became non – existent. Straight from church on Sundays and at the office before noon to clear out our scribbling obligations before the start of a new working week.

Hectic, hectic times those were. More so for my supervisor who, often, spent nights at the office to complete her portion of a writing task and review mine while racing towards an impossible deadline.

Be careful what you wish for ‘cos you just might get it all, and some you don’t want, sang Daughtery in his hit song, Home. My prayers had been answered, hadn’t they? Oh yes, with large second, third and fourth helpings.

I got my wish…and then some.

In the middle of this insane work environment, I did some personal fiction – writing that, years later, I still marvel over when I read them. The collection, in my opinion, was part of the …and then some. They were the reward of our hard – driving situation.

Fast forward some years, and I added school run to my morning routine. Amongst other things I wanted was the children to appreciate the passing scenery as we moved from point A to B. Instead their heads were buried in one screen or the other – cellphone, iPad, tablet,etc. Have I missed out on any offending others? They are everywhere, popping up like sidewalk traders. And for the children, it’s like being in a candy store, eyes wide open and staring and choosing with delight at the endless options presented.

Born in the screen explosion age, they move from one (TV) under a static roof to another beneath a mobile one. And from the goodness of his heart, my beau had my car fitted with a game console and its attendant screen. For a time, they bickered over whose turn it was to play what game until they ruined it. And I sure as heck wasn’t going to have it fixed! Besides the cacophony of noise it brought – both natural and synthetic – it blocked my view when I was in reverse anyway.

Now, I advocate for the presence of options so that people can make the best possible choice as they see fit. But the screens available at this present time are tethering dangerously on an alarm-worthy level, and might result in an addiction at par with the opioid issue. Ok, maybe not that serious.

First off, staring at a screen for an unchecked, unhealthy length of time can be telling on the eyesight. Studies have shown this. And you can ask any of those glued to a desktop/laptop for most of their work day hours; there’s a lot of eye – rubbing and scratching going on. It could also result in wearing recommended glasses. Once I had to request for a screen protector during the crazy writing period because I began to notice the difference (read: not so perfect) in my vision when I got reacquaincted with God’s natural light.

And that’s the professional side of our relationship with screens.

The personal and recreational – social media and its various accomplices (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Telegram, WhatsApp, etc.) – on all other devices conspire to wreak further havoc on our sight.

I also read somewhere that using screens just before going to bed delays sleep for about 60-90 minutes longer. The light from the screen sends a signal to the brain indicating its alertness for a while longer.

I repeat ( oh, I haven’t said it before?!), I have nothing against the screens revolving in our lives. A little regulation is what I’m after in the young lives of my children, especially when we’re on the move. The world is passing by without them noticing a large chunk of it. Another screen is responsible for this oblivion. We might as well have stayed home and allowed the big one in the sitting room control our breathing patterns, voice pitches and body movements. Not enter the car and replicate it all here.

Then we moved houses last year, and our daily commute to school tripled in time and distance. The route, no matter which we took ( we have about four/ five available), always included at least a bridge and its attendant waterway beneath.

Through no prompting of mine, the children found interest in the same passing scenery I had been hounding them about for…ever. No scratch that. It was a different landscape now. The overhead elevation, the water body brought an interesting twist to the school run route. They could see speed boats flying across waves or bobbing gently while tethered at the dock. The cool air emanating from the water was also an added incentive to appreciate mother nature. Being on a bridge was way better travelling experience than plain, boring, flat road.

So two children who spent their commute time bickering about the injustice meted out by either of them, for hugging the game console/ipad/cell phone for too long, turned that energy into non – stop, excited chatter about…thank you, Lord!… the passing scenery.
Did I see that boat go?
Are those fishermen in the canoe?
When can we go in a canoe?
Who owns the speedboats?
And are they as scary as they are fast?
Why is the water dirty this morning?

This was what I wanted, what I craved for. Less dependence on technology for entertainment, more living in the present and in the little moments of life.

But alas…it came at a price. More drive time. Waking the children 15 minutes earlier. Forgoing my weekday workout sessions. Leaving the house earlier as well.

I refuse to dwell on how knackered I am at the end of each day, and every week. The kind that makes me imagine how the human body is capable of such exhaustion. Or the pain that sometimes lodges at the small of my back from all that daily driving.

They are small prices to pay. I got my wish…and then some writing material.

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