Up until the age of 9 you would always find me out playing, all day long. I'd come home from school, throw my bag in, go straight out to play football in the local park with my friends, come home around 5pm, get my tea, and go out again for another few hours until it was bed-time. During school holidays it would be the whole day. If I wasn't playing football, or occasionally tennis, I was riding my bike around the city, going on adventures or climbing trees somewhere. When the Olympics and Commonwealth Games were on we'd recreate the events somehow around us, using our imagination to create the track, trying to find things to use as a makeshift javelin, or using boulders for the shot put. The only times you'd find me in was when there was extreme rain, wind or cold. Then we'd play snooker, chess, listen to the radio, whatever...
At 9 years old I got my first computer. I didn't ask for it, I didn't even know about computers then, but they were becoming more popular and so I guess it spread around as the thing to get for your child. My friends all got them around the same time as me. It didn't have internet so you could only play games or learn programming in BASIC, the in-built computer language. I enjoyed many of the games but I never got so into that like others around me. I was more fascinated with the programming side of things, but I was never a tech-head, it was just I saw the potential for creativity there. I imagined designing games, doing the graphics, but I soon realised I wasn't intellectual enough to actually do the programming. So it was more the creative potential that attracted me than anything else. During these years, between 9 and 13 years old, I still played outside a lot, although the computer did pull us in. Looking back now, I can see this as a critical turning point in humanity. As the years went on, from 13 years onwards, I watched how all my friends who had previously loved joining me casually playing football for hours in the park or going on adventures no longer seemed interested in that. With the rise of cable TV, more and more they wanted to stay in for hours watching endless live football matches or golf or tennis tournaments. With Eurosport and Sky Sports you could sit all day and just watch endless sport. My friends sort of split into two at this point - the sports-mad ones who now no longer wanted to play sport so much but watch it and the computer-mad ones who were never into sport in the first place and who just wanted to stay in all day playing games or programming. I didn't fit into either camp, although I could dip into each world for a bit of time.
It was at this stage, around the age of 15, that I began feeling more and more lonely. I could be surrounded by 5 or 6 friends and yet feel totally alone, as if I was on a different wavelength. I was physically with them but not really with them any longer. At that time I didn't understand what was going on in my life.
Once we left school and started going out drinking to pubs and clubs, this sense of being isolated increased. I could feel a distance was growing between us but I couldn't understand it. I first noticed that I seemed to be 'invisible' to them - they wouldn't hear me when I tried to say something, my whole presence and being seemed to be slipping away from them or them slipping from me. Years later I would understand this in terms of frequencies and energy. I literally was moving out of their frequency range and them out of mine. For a time we still physically appeared in the same reality but eventually that came to an end also. It coincided with many crucial events in my life. A so-called "mystery virus" I got during my time in my first job which led to me having to leave. (I later discovered this was not a "mystery virus" at all but a spiritual shift, a kind of pre-awakening stage). Somewhere in the middle of this I met Kate online. I never intended to go online to meet people, I was always interested in making real life physical connections but various things lined up to steer it that way. I had no money cos I wasn't working, my brother had just received a PC for Christmas (first computer we had with internet) and so being alone and isolated I soon discovered I could chat to people online from all over the world without leaving my house. At first it seemed an amazing thing. Around this time I used to wander through the crowds during the Edinburgh Festival soaking up the vibe and thinking how nice it was that all these different nationalities of people were together. So to get the opportunity to chat with them online was quite exciting at first.
Now, looking back, I see the signs were there of where we've ended up today. Many of the people I chatted to back then were awkward, had a lot of issues and just weren't straight-forward. I too was shy and could get nervous but if you dealt with me straight on I would reciprocate it. Kate stood out amongst this because she was the only person who was straight-forward and simple to deal with. We connected instantly. There was no sense of pretence, no difficulties in trying to communicate. Others would go so far with me then shut off so you couldn't get to know them, couldn't get close to them.
Throughout all those years I always stayed close to Nature in one way or another, no matter what those around me were doing. I went up the local hills regularly or for walks in nature. I even continued kicking a football off the wall on my own when I was 16 (and got abuse for it), so determined was I that even if all my friends were no longer interested, I wasn't going to allow them to kill my joy. I always instinctively kept that connection, or it drew me back, no matter how much society and people around me were trying to pull me away, because I am also that!. Nature is my Nature! I didn't understand it then the way I do now, I just instinctively acted that way.
Now I see and hear so many people talking as if they are spending their whole lives immersed in technology. It is clearly what the system wants, the way it is taking society, the A.I. agenda and looking back, I can see where it was starting to creep in during my childhood in the 1980s. In every area of life now you can see the coldness of it spreading and it becoming normal. There's even many who seem to be loving it - loving replacing the real, physical world of nature with some A.I. fantasy land, somehow convincing themselves that sitting at their computer all day long and immersing themselves in an online world is no different to the physical world of trees, plants, rocks, water, sun, wind, etc...
At this time I feel myself called more than ever to Nature, reminded of its beauty and wisdom. It communicates to me that it has always been there - the trees were 'watching' me as a young boy playing in amongst them. They remember. They know I am one of them and that connection can never be broken. I am not anti-technology at all. It has brought wonderful things into our lives but if we're not aware it will bring horror too. It should be used as a tool to enhance our lives and be harmonious with the natural world, not to replace it.
Some it seems, no matter how much you try to remind them, may have somehow disconnected themselves from that connection so that they cannot feel the beauty, power and splendour of Nature but there are many out there who just need a reminder. To be nudged back into that Natural State. I write this for those people who can hear and want to celebrate in it with me and find the human being again in humanity.