Swinging with the Changes

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I remember my first Google search. I was working on an elementary school report, and I asked my dad for help. He pulled me onto his lap and showed me how the internet worked. Pointing, he explained how I could type in the thing I was researching and how answers from around the world would show up in just minutes. I was amazed; a smart man all the way from Australia was suddenly telling me about the snake I was researching.

A few weeks after my dad taught me how to use Google, my mom took me to the big library. Only a twenty five minute drive, going to this far away library was so much more of a treat than going to our local little library. I was as excited as if we were going to the amusement park. While my mom took my sisters to the little kid section, she told me I could use one of the computers. I signed on with glee, and pulled up Google. A world of information, and I had no idea where to start. So I searched for “M and Ms.” I read a few fun facts about the candy and I read a recipe. As an eight year old, I had no way to make that recipe, but the knowledge, and the ability to find the knowledge, was as sweet as eating an M&M cookie. I ended up going to the American Girl website and playing games until my mom fetched me.

Sometimes, I still pull open google and type that same search, “M and Ms.” I still sometimes feel a shock of thrill that Australia is answering me in just seconds, but most of the time, I take technology for granted. Until I start to remember, and I realize that it is not that old. I’m four years older than google.

We talked about technology in British literature today, about how the Victorian Age saw so many changes in such a short amount of time. I marveled for a moment, but then the professor said that we understand the literature of this time because we are living in time of just as much monumental change. Like them, we struggle to keep up. Smart phones were not invented when I started high school. Now, they’re commonplace. In forty years, if life progresses on the same track of exponential technological expansion that it has since this Victorian era, then artificial intelligence could surpass actual intelligence. We’re being consumed by change, and do we even realize it?

This Valentine’s Day was nearly perfect. Without trying to, we limited our use of technology to the stereo and the stove. We feasted and we enjoyed each other’s company, but as the sun was setting, the last moments of daylight beckoned. So we walked through the bizarre bamboo forest to my favorite set of swings.

It is a simple swing set on what used to be a girls boarding school. My college bought it, and I’ve sought refuge and relaxation at this swing set many a times. But never had I gone with eleven of my closest friends. As soon as the swings were in sight, we raced to see who would get the best swing, as if we were truly kids again. There are six swings and two trees, all in a line by an open field. Throwing aside all the worries of the world, we flew. Back and forth, back and forth, we were little pendulums of change without realizing it.

After a brief break climbing trees, we returned to the swings. But the boys in our little group were ready for some adventure. They did the biggest playground “no-no.” It started with a Frisbee. Marco threw the Frisbee to Jonathan, trying not to touch any of the swinging friends. It made it, so they decided to try a riskier version. They ran through the swings, a real life game of Frogger.

We came so close to colliding, but they dodged us every time.

As I grew more and more overwhelmed in class, wondering if an English major or a Psychology major would fit in a world where language is automated and mind waves are tracked and genes are engineered and technology is everything, I thought back to Saturday, and I thought back to my first google search. There will be pendulums of change to dodge for the rest of my life. Advancements will amaze and astound me, they’ll distract and disturb me. They might come very close to knocking me in the knees as I run by. But I will not sit on the side lines as the world swings past. I’ll be there, enjoying the ride, and holding on fast to the one thing that never changes.

“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’ …  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13: 6, 8

 

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