We’ve all had “those days”. Yesterday was one of mine. My tech provider which affords me the opportunity to not only have Internet service but also cable television and telephone was making some repairs or changes or… well, something. All of the services were down for ten very long hours. I called to report the outage and was told to check back in twenty-four hours. I thought it must be an automated response but eight hours later when I called back, I was told “Issues will be resolved sooner than expected; service should be restored within eight hours.” Sixteen hours will no land-based technology? Instead of reveling in the peace I had just been offered and the opportunity to catch up on much-needed tasks not technology related, I instead felt a panic.
I first became aware of the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation when working at a public library. I had prior computer experience and was picked to write training manuals for the staff. The Gates Foundation had gifted the library a computer lab so that inner city children could have access to computers and the Internet. Only three people on a staff of thirty had a personal computer. As one of the three I ended up mentoring and teaching computer usage as well as drafting manuals.
The local library had, as most do, a foundation that provided monetary support. At an unveiling of the new lab several days before it opened to the public, members of the foundation were invited to a reception and the computers were on display for the foundation members to try and appreciate. I had been paired with the oldest member of the foundation, a 96-year-old architect who was not overly impressed. He saw no need for computer educational support when we had three stories of books and were part of a national and international book exchange program. Computer screens to him were blank nonsense that would not inspire nor provide opportunity or anyone. In fact, he was certain they “would suck all opportunity from the children who sat in front of them”.
I walked over to the front desk and retrieved a blank piece of paper. I then gave him a pencil and asked him to draw a simple outline of a three-story building or, for that matter, any object he saw on the paper. He gave me back my pencil and proceeded to make a building using the ancient Japanese art of origami. It took him about two minutes and we were all fascinated.
I then took his old, gnarled hands obviously showing signs of rheumatoid arthritis, in mine and said: “I gave you nothing and you created wonderment. With the resources available to a child on the Internet, just imagine what he or she could create.” This stately, elderly gentle man then smiled and said: “Oh, you then need to call the computer what it is – a box full of opportunity and potential.” He served as a volunteer in the computer lab for two years until his passing, and then we learned of his bequeath to the computer lab which provided support for the computers long after the original grant had expired.
We all can create opportunity for another person. The Gates Foundation has moved on to things beyond computers. In 2016 they have made three resolutions or promises to serve as goals. The first involves their continued efforts regarding vaccines for some of the world’s most deadly diseases, especially in underdeveloped countries in Africa and the Far East.
They also have women and girls in their “hearts of our endeavors”. They plan to invest time, funding, and efforts towards empowering women. Better healthcare and wellbeing for girls and women means a better world. Third, they plan to invest in innovation. The future is all about science and technology and that includes drug therapies for such things as elephantiasis which alone affects over one hundred and twenty million people.
Give yourself the gift of some “down time” and interact without technology. I am not dissing our friends via the Internet but sometimes we need to connect person to person or self to soul. I wish I could tell you I used those sixteen hours and got completely caught up. I did get some things done but I also used some of that time to refuel my soul. I simply sat and enjoyed life and some solitude. My to-do list would require more than sixteen hours but yesterday was a gift. Instead of being “stuck”, I found peace and happiness of self.
The world today is a world with many needs and the future will be dim until we all take steps to do our part. We can do better and everyone has a vital role to play. “You never know how far reaching something you may think say or do today will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.” B. J. Palmer’s words are very true and they are speaking directly to each of us. We need to make living an opportunity for success by taking action, by seeing the extraordinary opportunity in our ordinary time.