The Joy of Unimportance (Or Hands-Free Living)

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My grandmother is the only person I know of who prides herself on “hands-free” living. She defines this as having both of her upper extremities available for her use at any given time in her day…or night…living.

No, Gran is not paralyzed or otherwise infirmed. She simply does not ascribe to being shackled to an electronic device.

I find it remarkable that she can open her blinds, unlock her door, and yes, even feed her cat without WiFi assist. My parents can’t even do that!

She even still frequents the local postal service to purchase a few of those antiquated stamps which she then affixes to a (…yes…) handwritten letter to someone that she has deemed worthy of hearing from her.



For septuagenarian (I googled it), this lady has traveled the world, met famous people, and has even helped to start a school in Africa, currently bearing her name.

Gran assures me that she is finding much solace, indeed much JOY in her new-found unimportance.

She holds the view that virtually everyone is important today, thanks to facebook, twitter and the like. So it only stands to reason, that if one can abstain (within reason ) from what she calls “craziness” there is peace at the end of that there tunnel.

Granted, Gran is closer to that proverbial tunnel of light than I am, but I do wonder if she doesn’t sleep better these nights. These nights when I have my i-phone tucked under my pillow or strapped to my wrist so that I can respond to my myriad of friends and un-friends. I actually think that her nocturnal rest and peaceful joy comes from knowing who she is, not who social media thinks she is. Ergo, perhaps she is escaping much of the angst that many of us are exposed to on social media. I’m being UN-FRIENDED! OMG !!!!

But hey I tell Gran, “this is where we are, right here and right now. I can’t escape! “”

Gran then tells me that my Mom used to actually go out riding on her mare for hours at a time with no GPS, no iPhone, not even a helmet. Miracle of all miracles, that 12 yr.old would return after a few hours, cool down the horse, and come into the house with great tales of their adventures. Today that same Mom of mine hovers over me like a drone. A loving drone, but still a drone. And don’t ask me about Dad.

What to do? What to do?

#1 I keep Gran alive for as long as I can because she keeps me in the real, breathing, non-electronic world.

#2 I remember to leave my device in the car when I go for a visit.

#3 on entering that sacrosanct domain of Grans “unimportant” living, I will not fail to notice and ask for her stories about the stuff I see .

Where is this Blue Mosque?

Who rescued you when this sailboat capsized in Lake Victoria? Who are the Maasai and why did you get mad at them?
What do you mean, the Blue Nile and White Nile?
Can you teach me Swahili?

Maybe. Just maybe, I can learn that, and more from the encyclopedia that is my Gran. And learn it all in a way that Google can never teach me.

If I “posted “ all of those photos of all those unbelievable adventures, those stories might probably outshine the hype that whirls around us today.
She managed to live out her adventures, without pausing to take a selfie or to post every actions.

“Son”, she once said to me, “ I was too busy perusing the souks, camping on safari, and defending myself in African court to care much about what other people thought. It was enough to just BE there and take it all in.”

Gran has lived, and is living “hands-free” all right,

She knows the Joy of Unimportance. Because of her life, never having “gone viral”, has been important.

And I ‘m learning that.

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