High tech for the simple life!
Author: Richard Singleton

This past Christmas, two new devices came to roost in my happy little existence that I swore would never overtake me: a Mac and a Keurig. For years I’ve been swearing that I would never want an Apple product and I would never pay so dearly for the K-Cups that Keurigs seem to devour with rapscallion ease.

Famous last words!

Now, weeks after my first foray into the expensive, but sublime, world of the MacBook Pro and K-Cups, I have to say I’m hooked (make mine a Nantucket Blend, by the way). And, this article isn’t just a self-revelatory, forgiveness-seeking mea culpa. In fact, it’s not that at all. Neither is it an appeal for you to join me on the dark side. Nope. I may be a convert, but I’m not an apologist – not just yet, at least.

So, why all the fuss? Well, I think there are some metaphoric life-lessons living in the background of my recent jaunt into the high-tech world of single-body aluminum elegance and single-cup caffeinated bliss. First, there’s always a bigger and better mouse trap; I’m a traditionalist by heart; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. You get the picture. But, sometimes you have to step out of the comfort zone with technology if you’re going to benefit from the new and quite stylish opportunities that are out there.

There’s a life lesson here. Often, our families get stuck in the sand of the same-old. It’s alluring to just keep on pitching coal on the belching fires of the status quo freight train, but movement, newness and opportunities aren’t prone to rest on rigid, unmoving habits. There’s more out there than the ordinary.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. Long-held family traditions, stories and folk-ways shouldn’t be abandoned – not most of them anyway. But, if your family seems to be stuck in the doldrums of the deceitfully mundane, shake it up. Do something new. Of course, this likely means turning off the TV, the game system, the computer, the tablet, the phone and whatever else maybe barking for your attention.

Next, “more expensive” may be an investment, not a waste. I’m kinda cheap. Well, when it comes to money that I spend on myself, that is. I love buying nice things for my wife and kids, but I don’t like splurging on myself. My wardrobe is rarely stylish and always economical; my car is rather bland. I’m starting to flirt with a mid-life crisis and see a potential for an overly endowed sports car or ATV-towing 4×4 in my future, but as of now, it’s just me and my understated, practical ‘07 Hyundai.

Even the Mac and Keurig were family gifts, not purchases I made for myself. Having come to appreciate the craftsmanship, elegance and design of these devices, however, I’m quite positive that my miserly ways may be an anachronism that have lost a long, arduous battle with reality.

Speaking of reality, to get to a new level of functionality and practicality with our families might also require that we invest a little dough. Perhaps some money for a much-needed spring vacation, some overdue counseling sessions, a weekend getaway for two or maybe, some time away from overtime.

If it costs you nothing, it’s probably worth about the same. Invest in your family; it’s bound to provide amazing dividends.

Finally, there’s a simplicity to the Mac and Keurig that seems to be a harbinger of delightful things to come. One of the things that appeal to so many about these machines is that they are silly, stupid-easy to use. That can’t be said for all technology.

Take Windows 8, for example. Wait. I actually like it. See, I haven’t completely abandoned my roots. Windows and I have been buddies since the 80s and I’m not willing to ditch a long-time friend that fast or that easily. But, this is a friendship with issues, a complicated relationship. With most people that I’ve talked to, it’s been quite a startling thing for them to try to master the new interface coming out of the blissful environs of the Evergreen State. Family lesson: sometimes, less is more.

Sometimes we get too smart by half, adding too many things to our already bloated, bulging schedules. We pile on, pile up and pile drive our calendars. Perhaps a lesson from some of the more well-received technologies would be that there’s a lot of room for dumbing down our lives, for removing the excesses and for exterminating the time-hungry clock-zombies that intrude upon our families.
Just a couple of months ago my son and I watched “The Time Machine” – the 1960 classic starring Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux. Its charmingly simple reminder was that the future is full of possibilities, choices and consequences, all influenced by what we choose to remember or what we are forced to forget.

In one of the more poignant moments of the film, the charater Wells returns to the present, only to gather three books and return to the future. It’s sublimely simple isn’t it? As much as technology may advance us, coddle us and cajole us, the future still is intimately connected to the past and those who forget history are still doomed to repeat it.

Yep, I’ve gone from rabid heckler to radiant fan; I admit it. In doing so, I’ve learned some valuable lessons. Not so much about technology and my growing array of toys. Rather, I think I’ve learned some things about life and family – the things that technology was supposed to help us enjoy more of all along.

Richard Singleton, MACE, MAMFC, LPC, is the Executive Director at STARRY in Round Rock.

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