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SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: To live this life

SOMEWHERE IN TIME (Not minding the news/13 March) — Think of a fourth class municipality in Mindanao in the 1970s to the early 1980s, a time when computers, cable TV and mobile phones were still light years away from the consciousness of our generation. Those who were born with electronic gadgets as their playthings may find it hard to imagine how people living in such a place in those days spend time off from work without the battery-dependent luxuries of today.

The Internet was born in 1989, and it only reached the Philippines about five years after. So imagine the slow-paced communication since we had to rely on the snail mail, telegraph service that wasn’t 100-percent reliable, and yes, hand-carried messages!

As for TV, only a handful of homes had it. News mainly came from the radio, although Father (may he rest in peace) often bought the defunct Free Press magazine for commentaries on the latest political developments in Manila. In short, life was slow.

But, boy, we did have some fun. At home or outdoors, the world we grew up in was just as enjoyable – and maybe purer in spirit. We had friends, and they’re real, not just virtual. We talked, not just “texted”. We played, and I mean not just with keyboard and mouse but outdoors, with the energy we got from camote and banana (there was no junk food then except that tempting tira-tira or balikutsa, a homemade candy from muscovado that helped the dentist earn some bucks).

Compared to today’s children, I’d say we developed leaner but meaner bodies due to the frequent exposure to the outdoors and physical games. We never cared about getting cuts and bruises by rolling in the meadows or climbing trees. The sight of blood trickling from our flesh didn’t frighten us, although I did cry a few times; we just made sure to salve our wounds with chewed guava leaves or abaca to stop the bleeding before going home so the old folks would think nothing bad happened.

The world was ours. We had the beaches, the rivers and streams, the woods, the hills not because they literally belonged to us but because we had all the time to enjoy them. They taught and gave us something which can only be explained by personally experiencing what it is – or was.

That’s why I pity today’s children who spend much of their time in front of gadgets. Soon they’ll grow up, become preoccupied with higher education and work, and miss the chance of enjoying the outdoor while they can. When they get older they’d either be too lazy or too sick to experience the things they should have done when they were younger.

One time or another, the child in us would struggle to free itself from the bounds of our daily cares. And when it does, don’t suppress the urge. Grab that fishing line and go to the nearest river or lake. Remove your shoes or sandals and feel the cool, dewy morning grass. Get out of that airconditioned office and savor instead the natural air outside. You don’t have to spend thousands in commercial resorts to enjoy what you might have missed.

Life is short? Not if you know how and where to find meaning. Not if your quest for contentment and answers unfolds as a process of discovery and learning. No matter how fast and complex the latest computer has become, it can never provide the answers to the questions we ask ourselves each time we wake up or go to bed. (MindaNews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at hmcmordeno@gmail.com)

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