laser cut doily clock by uncommon - click image for more info

As the mother of a two year old, I am acutely aware that there is one life skill that my daughter may never really need to learn: how to read an analog clock.

I can remember many hours (days… weeks…) being spent on this important skill. Little hand, big hand, counting by fives, system of twelve. The wonders of the analog clock never cease!

Except that analog clocks are now more like quaint little treasures – accessory on a wall, bling around the wrist – than an actual tool for finding our way in time.

In fact, many have decried 2011 as the year that the mighty wristwatch would become obsolete entirely.

We exclusively access time through the interface of our digital devices: computers, tablets, and cell phones.

Time outside the network barely exists.

Our digital world has taken over a very simple, tangible part of the analog.

* * *

I graduated from college in 2004 – the year Facebook was founded. I blogged on Xanga and my first social network was a very brief experience with MySpace. I’m old school.

While I was blogging, I was fueled internally by a very external life. I was engaged in school organizations, doing deep work in theology, politically active. Ideas flowed into me via experience and flowed out of me via the net. It was a beautiful way to live. Connected.

After college and a crisis of personal faith [in myself], I stopped blogging. I was no longer connected, experientially or digitally. There was nothing to fuel me. I withdrew. It wasn’t pretty.

Craving the connection I had before, I opened an account on MySpace. It lasted a week or two. The last status update I made read something like this:

Had the most amazing first date last night!

That first date is now my husband.

I didn’t start blogging or networking again for 3 years. I needed to plug back into experience. I needed to be & feel something deeper than pixels & posts. It took me 3 whole years to rediscover the depth of my own spirit.

* * *

I’ve said before how much the phrase “in real life” bothers me. I’ve also said before how real & deeply connected I am through the relationships I’ve cultivated in my digital world.

Analog – the physical & tangible world – and digital – the electrons & code world – are very much the same to me.

To be fully alive in either, requires a profound experience of life around you.

It’s not enough to try to cover up either world with superficial relationships, well-crafted marketing messages, or feeble calls to action. We can be artificial in the analog world too.

The way you interact with the world – whether digital or analog – is a reflection of the experiences you absorb & create.

Strive to do something that matters. Plan to find love, make love, and be love. Learn and teach. Be mindful of your smallest experiences as shared stories with the wider world.

To share the experience, we must really live the experience, as it unfolds moment to moment.
— Gwen Bell, Digital Warriorship

Mindfulness is at the heart of truly enjoying the experience of life. You can go through life flying from moment to moment, never being aware of the passage of life just below your feet. Or you can experience the feeling of each moment. You can breathe in & breathe out life.

Mindfulness is critical whether you’re accessing the analog world or the digital.

Acting with compassion & kindness, leading with your passion, engaging with beauty – that’s where you’ll find “realness.” And real is never obsolete.

What experience is your digital world reflecting? What experience is your analog world reflecting