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A eyeful of opportunity in a new year

Progressive Cattleman Editor David Cooper Published on 22 December 2017

I don’t know about your corner of the world – but here in Idaho, we get some pretty darn near perfect sunsets when dusk rolls around.

These scenic moments happen while I’m driving home or strolling through the sagebrush-covered high desert. And when these vistas present themselves, my first impression is to take out the smartphone and snap a picture.

And that’s when I ruin the experience.

Today’s phones are superior to any camera I’ve ever owned. And yet they never are capable of capturing the beauty of the amber sun burning soft light across the horizon and beyond. Somehow, the photographic snapshot always pales in comparison to seeing it with the human eye.

For years, I’ve avoided New Year’s resolutions. They are the goal-driven, sanctimonious property of the pious and ambitious. And, needless to say, I am not exactly in the Stephen Covey mold of a highly effective person.

But I’m at an age that can be considered on the downslope, and I bear the responsibility of raising five kids. And it’s worth taking note of little lessons that have to be learned, re-learned and then shared with the next generation.

So whether it’s a resolution, or just savoring some hard-earned wisdom, my intention this year is to let my senses be a higher priority than technology.

Whereas previous generations were dubbed baby boomer, Gen X or millennials, I read recently that kids born after 1995 are now called the iGen generation. Their fixation on technology is even more acute than with millennials. And it’s leading them to less happiness and more depression.

When I take away the phones and video games from my kids, I usually hear one refrain: “I’m bored.”

Their complaints fall on deaf ears as far as I’m concerned. Boredom is the parent of creation and exploration. It should push us to the edge of discomfort in our relative comfort. We can’t wait for life to hand us opportunity. Boredom should compel us to find it.

I won’t blame society’s ills on technology and mobile phones. They make life easier, but sometimes that ease is an illusion. Social media creates a distorted view of perfection. Email and texting reflect instantaneous thought, yet discourage thoughtful reflection.

This carpe diem attitude isn’t about taking time to smell the roses. Sometimes you’ll smell silage and manure. And sometimes you smell freshly fallen rain on the sage, and in my book that beats roses any day.

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking of in a new year. Here’s hoping there are sunsets along the way.  end mark

David Cooper
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