Hate to admit it but…. I am definitely not the most observant person in the world. I can’t even imagine all the amazing things I’ve missed out on simply because I wasn’t paying attention. Most of the time, my head has been buried too deeply in my phone, answering emails from frantic, non-traditional college students (that’s the polite way of saying “older college students” who have “been away from learnin’ for awhile”). Other times, I may find myself completely preoccupied (that’s a polite way of saying “wasting time on”) Facebook, scrolling through the newsfeeds to see what so-and-so is having for dinner, or whose relationship status has recently changed, or who has lost 100 pounds by drinking their weight in shakes, or whose child deserves a big “Congratulations” for making straight A’s. (Have you ever noticed that we never see our friends post statuses about straight C’s? The world may see me do just that one day. I may say, “Congratulations to my two kids, for being fabulously average when it comes to academia. Those C’s you got on your report card will serve you well one day, when you’re an adult, because you’ve already learned that you’re not right all the time and you’ll be willing to take risks. Yes, I’m proud of those C’s you made because it means you know you’re not perfect, that you don’t need to be perfect, and that you are loved beyond measure anyway.” Yes, that right there may appear as my Facebook status the next time I see anymore congratulations for straight A’s.)
I’m ashamed to admit just how much I have allowed technology to distract me over the years. Those who are closest to me can attest that I am rarely without my cellphone (which does everything from serving as a flashlight to an online bank, to an HD camcorder/camera, to a ticket booth, to an audiobook player, to mobile television. I’m just waiting for them to make an app that will shoot a laser through a can of pork and beans, thus eliminating the need for a can opener.) This morning, my family flew to Florida and we experienced something different. Since I’m an English teacher, I like to pick out examples of literary devices that may be lurking around every mundane bend, so here’s a picture that portrays an example of situational irony. (I’ll let those of you who know me try to figure it out. Just think of it as those “Spot the Difference” pictures that used to be in the comics section.
Have you spotted the situational irony yet? Here is Luke, my sweet, lil country bumpkin of a 12-year-old boy, who actually does take the time to notice things. He is not yet tied to his phone, he maybe plays a total of 2 hours’ worth of video games per week, his favorite channel is the Pursuit Channel (Direct TV, channel 609, a hunter & fisherman’s paradise), he is mono-syllabic when texting, he would rather sit in a tree stand than in a recliner, and he will most likely die of suffocation if he ever takes a desk job as an adult. My Luke notices God’s creation. He listens to it. He sees it. He breathes it in and tastes it, so much more than his mother does.
So what is the situational irony in this picture? Here we are, ascending to 37,000, close enough to the clouds that we could stick our tongues out and taste the cotton candy sweetness on our lips. And what’s Luke doing? He has his lap-table, down, completely tuned into his Ipod and Ipad, all the while missing out on the experience of soaring amidst the clouds! It was at this point that I said, “Boy, You Are 30,000 Feet In the Air. . . Put the Ipad Up & Look Out the Window!” It’s situational irony because he so rarely misses things, as he’s so in tune with nature. Stay with me, reader. I’m not going all Transcendentalist on you. I promise I won’t quote Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, with their transparent eyeballs and utopian hermit status. But normally Luke is saying things like that to me, even though I’m the parent. Things like, “Mama, please stop texting for a minute and look at these tracks. I think they’re from a coyote.” Or “Mama, please put down the Ipad and listen to this noise. Are they cicadas or crickets?” Or“Mama, can you please get off that computer and come out here and help me move this old fish aquarium. I just dug up 100 worms and I want to make them a home so I can use them when I fish.”
So yes, today, I got to experience a bit of situational irony with Luke, and I liked it. It felt good for ME to be the one reminding HIM to turn off the gadgets and tune into nature.