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Building my Offline Playground

The playground is empty. My friends have all gone home. I look all around, and I have full access to the monkey bars, slides and seesaws. Yet without anyone to enjoy them with, the space and my heart are empty. I am standing in the midst of a paradise, yet it is meaningless because I am overcome by a sense of abandonment. That’s how I often feel now when I go out with friends. All I want to do is enjoy their company, conversation and our time together with my eyes focused on theirs. Although they are physically present, their attention is on the activity happening in the palm of their hand, and I am alone in a room full of people, taking on the status of invisibility. Suddenly, by simple observation and experience, I am able to understand how suicide has become one of the leading causes of death in our country. Sadness from the loneliness of connectedness is killing us.


Last week I told someone that I needed his undivided attention because something important was on my mind. He gave it to me, for five minutes, until his phone took him far away from me. His actions made me nauseous. Not because I was not able to express what I so needed, but I was brought to an acute awareness that there must have been plenty of times when I had done the same thing to others. This feels wrong to me in so many ways. If I don’t fix my own habits, I will continue to repeat this, and it interferes with my innate ability and desire to love others unconditionally. 

How many real friends did I ignore who needed me, how many miracles did I miss, how much joy did I sacrifice to trivial Likes and Comments, how many times did I ignore or interrupt someone by scrolling to find and show a picture. I can’t get those moments back, but I can and will put my phone down. Perhaps this will leave me alone on that playground, but at least I will be available to appreciate nature again or notice the new kid on the block who just wants to laugh and explore the wonders of life like me. 

It does not escape me that although cables and wires are becoming a thing of the past with Wifi, we are getting entangled in the Internet’s offerings more than ever. Even though my new apartment in Ohio includes Wifi, the energy I seek will be generated by humans…in the forest, the village, the shops. In person, while my phone (that doesn’t know loneliness) is on a table at home.


I’m back in New York this week, making final preparations for my Ohio transition. I had the rare privilege to meet the buyer of this sanctuary. Understanding the sacredness of this space, she will care for it as I did and appreciate the wildlife and sunsets. What a blessing.

I witnessed one of the most amusing nature scenes that I’ve ever seen live the other day. A blue heron has been patrolling the backyard, likely guarding a nest. He or she charged an unsuspecting grazing deer who came too close for the bird’s comfort. The resulting animation between the angry bird and surprised mammal was hilarious! More birds are appearing, and the bumblebees are joining them to celebrate spring. Meanwhile, inside, Mama Nature is bringing me a true miracle, pictured here. For only the second time in six years, my amaryllis is exploding into several blooms. A friend encouraged me to look up the spiritual meaning of that. Pride, strength and determination. Also, Greek for “to sparkle.” Given the adventure I am about to undertake, it all fits. 

Be blessed, everyone, and consider this an open invitation to my new playground. All are welcome, and I promise I will listen to your every word, and then push you on the swing.

Love, Mary


Melissa Toni
Melissa Toni

Nice to know love-angels (genuine real sugar ones ;)) still exist in the world. Thank you for helping people feel not alone in this naturally beautiful world.

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