Dear School Kid,
Today I said a little prayer for you. As I stepped out of the ocean tonight, after a mid-winter surf, feeling all fresh and alive, I wished with all of my might that you might have a chance to feel how I felt in that moment. My fingers were numb from the cold, but I had awareness in my breath and felt connected to my body. I wondered if many of you have ever felt this way before? It’s ok, I know how it is… I know that you’re stuck, sitting in school for 6 hours a day, and most of the time you don’t want to be there. And then after school, you go home and you sit around some more. I know because you told me. You told me that you sit in front of a screen for at least 5 hours on a school night and at least 9 on the weekend. Where does your mind go when you sit in front of that screen? Do you even notice that your whole consciousness dissolves in that glowing rectangular box in front of your face? I know it must be nice to get to do something that you ‘like‘ instead of being stuck sitting at school… I do understand….
Ninety five percent of the kids at school are just like you and they’re… well… sort of… ‘soft‘. Now, before I get into any trouble for saying that, I’m simply making an observation. When I say ‘soft‘, I am not talking about being overweight, I’m talking about a certain characteristic, a particular quality. ‘Soft‘… Like, if I poked your arm, your skin wouldn’t bounce back so quickly. ‘Soft‘ as in, your skin is pale and dull and lacking luster. ‘Soft‘ as in, when I asked a bunch of you to run or walk quickly for three minutes so that we could measure your active heart rates, you actually couldn’t do it. ‘Soft‘ as in I don’t see a wrinkle, scratch, knick or cut on any of your hands, knees or elbows. I’ve seen you try to stretch and do yoga and you can’t even sit on the floor without complaining about aches and pains in your body, even though you’re no more than 17 years old.
Behind your back, some of the teachers call you oxygen bandits. And, although I can’t help but laugh a little when they say it, inside, it makes me want to jump up and grab you. WAKE UP! COME BACK TO EARTH! YOU’RE MISSING YOUR LIFE BECAUSE YOU’RE GLUED TO A SCREEN! I want you to feel what it’s like to notice that you do indeed have a body… Don’t you want to be reminded that you are, actually alive and breathing? All that sitting around makes it hard for you to concentrate in school… your body feels restless and your mind can’t focus. I’m telling you, get outside and run around for at least a little. Get sweaty and dirty and scrape your knees. You don’t do your homework anyway, so you may at least be playing outside. Getting sucked into the screen is ok, hey, we all do it. But when does it start to get out of control? Don’t let screens become the biggest drug of your generation. Go build a fort. Climb up a tree. Scrape your knee at the skatepark. Whatever you do, please, please, please, go outside and play.