Telling Stories

March 25, 2013
Photo Credit: Walt Stoneburner

Photo Credit: Walt Stoneburner

Last Saturday evening we ate dinner with some new friends from church.

After the meal we all moved to the living room to visit. I found a comfortable spot on the sofa and engaged in conversation. After a few minutes my oldest daughter, Lydia, came into the room looking for a seat. After surveying the landscape she chose the sofa with me. It’s a big sectional so there was plenty of room. To my surprise she sat right next to me and leaned into my shoulder.

It has been years since she has “cuddled” with me, and I certainly wouldn’t expect her to do so in the presence of strangers. Needless to say I was quite surprised. After a few minutes I finally commented: “Wow, you actually like me.”

Her response hit me over the head like a hammer: “Well, I was able to catch you when you didn’t have your iPhone in your hand.”

Ouch, that one kind of hurt. My initial response was to say something sarcastic in my own defense. Instead I kept my knee-jerk reaction to myself. I didn’t want to ruin a good moment, and I also didn’t want to discourage future acts of affection. There were a couple of reasons I didn’t have my smart phone in my hand. The first one is the most obvious; I was visiting with friends. The second reason isn’t as obvious, and would be more obvious at home when I’m free to have my phone in my hand at will; I’m on a social media fast.

When someone comes up to me and asks what my childhood was like, I don’t go into an explanation that takes seventeen years to finish. I sum up my childhood in a two-to-three minute exchange. Someday it will be the same for my daughters. Right now I am writing the story of their youth. I need to be aware of what that short summation may sound like coming from their mouths. I don’t want them to stumble over the story, trying to figure out what parts they need to leave out to make me look as good as possible. I want the story of their childhood to just flow from them naturally. It won’t be perfect, but I do have the power to make it a great story or just an average one. I certainly don’t want the existence of a smart phone to be something they have to gloss over to help the story be better. I also don’t want something so trivial to make me seem repellent.

For Lydia “with” means “no distractions.”

James Dibben


6 responses to Telling Stories

  1. Wow, that was a powerful moment of truth, wasn’t it? Those moments can indeed be painful but also profound. This whole idea of always having the phone at hand was being discussed as part of an NPR interview today with author Douglas Rushkoff whose new book is called Present Shock.

    It was a really interesting short interview which you can listen to here:

    I’m seriously thinking of giving the book a read.

    • I’m listening now.

      I don’t plan on putting Facebook or twitter back on my phone.

      It’s just to expensive.

      • Every January I find myself riding this wave of enthusiasm that ends up with me spending much more time online than I do any other time of year and I inevitably get sick of it and it ends in me spending too little time on the parts of it that are important to me. This year I had that same experience only I’ve found myself more slowly backing off and trying to focus on what is important. Today I did not pull up the internet one time at work. And it was a good day. I’m thinking this will probably be what I try to do going forward. Only pulling it up at lunch or on a true break, if at all. I don’t want to be robbing work of time, as Dave would say, and honestly not having to juggle that part of my life while at work is so freeing. And I find that when I get home it is even less important and I can keep it in its proper perspective.

        I give you kudos for what you are doing and would encourage you to keep it up. I do believe it is robbing us of parts of what make life important. We watched this documentary on Netflix yesterday called “Happy”. Absent of the fact that it doesn’t overly acknowledge the spiritual side of life, it is a really good documentary about keeping things in proper perspective.

  2. I went ahead and checked Mid Continent and they have the book on order so I placed a hold on it.