"...the "chores" that were a necessary component of our grandparent's lives likely lifted their emotions in powerful ways."
This simple statement from Kelly Lambert, PH.D helps us to understand something that has been puzzling travelers and authors visiting the poorest places in the world. How can we account for the happiness of indigenous peoples in comparison to the relative unhappiness of those in the world's wealthiest nations?
On what seems another subject, video gaming, Ed Miller, Program Director of Alliance for Childhood is sending a draft of an article commissioned by the Alliance concerning the supposed effectiveness of video games in children's learning. I hope to be able to share some additional insight soon.
One of the games children are really loving these days is Guitar Hero. It involves game controllers shaped like guitars. My daughter Lucy said that her friends who really play guitar are likely to be good at playing Guitar Hero. But the kids who are good at Guitar Hero are very unlikely to show any skill in the handling of a real guitar.
So, what is there about the virtual world that makes it so appealing? I got a call this morning from a dear friend who is dying from cancer. When Joe said "Goodbye, Doug," there was a sense of finality as though we may not speak again. And we may not.
In the virtual world, we move on unscathed by life. If we die we are reborn for another chance, if the system fails, we reboot. In real life, there is suffering, pain, exquisite beauty, touching and being touched by real lives, making real things that last generations, sharing with those we love, the beauty we have conceived and the skills we have mastered. Perhaps some of that explains an old Zen saying, "Poverty is your greatest treasure, never trade it for an easy life."
But trade it we have. We have made things too easy for our own good, thus preventing our own happiness and the true happiness of our own children to unfold. So the answer seems to be that we must make it hard again, by choice, by attempting to make old fingers do new things, by stretching to master new concepts, by turning off the TV (and computer), to play music, to work in gardens, canning fruit, preparing meals for our families, and setting examples of effort to create, to make and to serve.
And while we are at it, let's make some things from real wood.