A little epilogue to my tale of sadness

Guess what was on my desk when I got to work this morning?

That’s right, a steaming hot cup of coffee.

Apparently someone I work with A) read my post today B) has a key to my office and 3) has a pretty decent sense of humor.

We don’t have surveylance cameras on my floor and I’m no psychic, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was the same gentleman who posted this on my Facebook wall today:

Only you: “I want to be a real man, so I decided to make myself another iced chai tea…” I had to put down my cup of strong black coffee to type that. Man up!

If so, well done sir. Well done.

Just remember… no good prank goes unreturned.

Thank You Peter Bregman or: Why I Won’t Be Getting an iPad

Peter Bregman, who speaks, writes, and consults on leadership and other interesting life-hackish type topics has been one of my favorite bloggers for a long time. His post yesterday morning (Why I Returned My iPad) was, as I like to say, PURE GOLD.

As a man who values both simplicity and technology, I often myself in a place of tension between my desire for a simple life and my interest in new shiny toys. Bregman’s post today is a perfect example of another man who it seems struggles with that same tension but who also is disciplined enough to make difficult decisions to tilt his life in favor or who and what he really values most.

Below is a summary of the post, but don’t waste your time… click here to read it in it’s entirety.

A little more than a week after buying the iPad, I returned it to Apple. The problem wasn’t the iPad exactly, though it has some flaws. The problem was me.

I like technology, but I’m not an early adopter. I waited for the second-generation iPod, the second-generation iPhone, and the second-generation MacBook Air.

But the iPad was different. So sleek. So cool. So transformational. And, I figured, since it’s so similar to the iPhone, most of the kinks would already be worked out.

So at 4 PM on the day the 3G iPad was released, for the first time in my life, I waited in line for two hours to make a purchase.

I set up my iPad in the store because I wanted to make sure I could start using it the very moment I bought it. And use it I did. I carried it with me everywhere; it’s so small and thin and light, why not bring it along?

I did my email on it, of course. But I also wrote articles using Pages. I watched episodes of Weeds on Netflix. I checked the news, the weather, and the traffic. And, of course, I proudly showed it to, well, anyone who indicated the least bit of interest. (That could be a whole post in itself. We proudly show off new purchases as though simply possessing them is some form of accomplishment. Why? I didn’t create the iPad. I just bought one.)

It didn’t take long for me to encounter the dark side of this revolutionary device: it’s too good.

It’s too easy. Too accessible. Both too fast and too long-lasting. Certainly there are some kinks, but nothing monumental. For the most part, it does everything I could want. Which, as it turns out, is a problem.

He then goes on to talk about how his iPad essentially removed the state of boredom from his life. Which, as we all probably realize, is not a good thing. Bregman reminds us all how much we accomplish in the times in our life when we have down time. I’ve long been a proponent (even if I’m not always successful) for leaving room in my life for times of quiet, still, and reflection… or to put it less poetically: downtime.

My best ideas come to me when I am unproductive. When I am running but not listening to my iPod. When I am sitting, doing nothing, waiting for someone. When I am lying in bed as my mind wanders before falling to sleep. These “wasted” moments, moments not filled with anything in particular, are vital.

They are the moments in which we, often unconsciously, organize our minds, make sense of our lives, and connect the dots. They’re the moments in which we talk to ourselves. And listen.

To lose those moments, to replace them with tasks and efficiency, is a mistake. What’s worse is that we don’t just lose them. We actively throw them away.

His post spoke to me on many levels and was a good reminder that although we may not always be able to control all areas of our lives, the one area that we really do have complete control over is our downtime. Whether you have 10 minutes or 3 hours of downtime in a day, that is your time. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t be called downtime.

He finishes the post with a story about how purchasing and then returning his iPad made him open to a pattern of busyness he saw in the life of his daughter and how it helped him make a little more room in both his and her life for what is most important.

Around the same time I returned my iPad, I noticed that my eight-year-old daughter Isabelle was unbelievably busy from the moment she got home from school to the moment she went to bed. Bathing, reading, playing guitar, eating dinner, doing homework, she was non-stop until I rushed her off to bed. Once in bed she would try to talk to me but, worried about how little sleep she was getting, I would shush her, urging her to go to sleep.

We have a new ritual now, and it really has become my favorite part of the day. I put her to bed 15 minutes earlier than before. She crawls into bed and, instead of shushing her, I lie next to her and we just talk. She talks about things that happened that day, things she’s worried about, things she’s curious or thinking about. I listen and ask her questions. We laugh together. And our minds just wander.

Thank you, Peter Bregman. Well done sir. Well done.

Finding Manhood Got Wordled!

Although I haven’t blogged about it yet, I’m a firm believer that creativity is one of the greatest virtues of manhood. As a man who believes in a divine being who created humanity in his image, I really do believe there are few things a man can do (short of loving, serving, and sacrificing for others) that are more divine than the act of making art.

Wordle, which works by artistically converting the words from a blog or any other body of writing into a picture, has been one of my favorite websites for a long time now. While the art it creates is certainly not high brow, it’s definitely an interesting phenomenon to see your words expressed in such a visual and artistic way.

The more a word’s been used on this blog, the bigger it appears in the picture below. For instance, I clearly went a little word happy with the word oak on this post. Create your own wordle from your blog or any other piece of writing here.

P.S. I’m out of town on vacation right now and this post, along with the previous three, were written in advance so that I could have them in the can to post each day without having to spend my vacation time blogging. I asked my brother-in-law (who’s both an English teacher and a great writer) to compose a guest post in my abscence, but as of yet, he has not provided. Please blame him if you’ve not been impressed with the quality of my most recent content.