Sunday, February 19, 2012

Oh, The Times They Are A Changing

I have lived half a century.  Half of 100 years and with any luck, I will be able to say that at this point, I had only lived half my life.  I've been thinking lately of just how much the world as I see it has changed.

In every direction, life has changed and while I know that should I look back into history, I would see that perhaps this is repetitive change.  We have probably been here before, racing towards progress only to eventually find ourselves throwing rocks at our potential dinner.

Being a child of the 1950s, I recall a world without a lot of television, cell phones and most advanced modern technologies.  If I wanted to write to my Uncle Bill, I had to actually get a pencil or pen, find some writing paper, actually write the letter with my hand, address an envelop, fold up the letter, put the letter in an envelop, lick the envelop to seal, go to the Post Office, buy a stamp (which was 10 cents), lick the stamp, attach the stamp to the envelop and finally place the letter in the Outgoing slot, just to tell Uncle Bill I loved him.  Back then calling long distance was a luxury we simply couldn't afford.

As kids, we spent all our time outside.  Rain, shine, hot or cold, we were outside.  We played football, baseball, kickball, we rode our bikes all over the neighborhoods, walked on hot streets in the summer, drank tons of water and enjoyed nickle candies.  Daddy worked the huge garden that supplied our dinner table with delicious bounty and Mom transformed a second hand dress into a dress for me for a special occasion.  Both tasks done with patience and by hand.

I learned to sew on an old Singer sewing machine with a foot pedal that made the whole thing work. I learned to type on a manual typewriter that more often than not, found me pulling my fingers out from between the keys.  It seemed we did more and knew less.  If we didn't know how to do something, we either had to find someone with the experience and time to teach us or we had to go to a library and check out a book on the topic.  We may not have had as much and maybe we didn't have the world at our fingertips, but we had a most carefree existence.  We ate food that was nutritious and made our Barbie dollhouses out of cardboard boxes and scraps of carpet.  Nothing was instant and nothing was easy.  And yet, in many ways, that life had great value.  It was a time of conquering our wants and needs with what God gave us, two hands, two eyes and a creative brain.  We used the daylight to finish what had to be done and slept well thanks to the fatigue of being busy and active all day.

Its as if I blinked my eyes and now my birthday cakes require more candles than it has room.  I have become my parents except, life is different.  We have so much and except for what is most important, we have want for nothing.  We all have cell phones and I do mean all of us, yet we can't make enough money to save for college for our children.  We have a dependable car but not enough money to go anywhere other than to work and school.  We have health insurance but not enough for the deductible that takes us to our Primary for care.  We have all the food we could want but the food does little to provide nutrition for our bodies.  Some of these are priority choices, others are facts of life. 

Today, social media has turned our lives into open books.  Privacy is minimized and while you might not participate in social medias, everyone else does so whatever they know is spread exponentially.  Social media is nothing more than fancy wildfire gossiping for which I have no need at all.  Truly, I prefer to mind my own business.

Today, we are one with our technology.  There is no doubt, these advances have made our world more productive, more convenient and in some cases, more enjoyable.  I don't think I could do a fair comparison of the two worlds I have known in my life.  I know there is value in each and for very different reasons.

Could I say which I prefer most?  No.  Could I quickly adapt to the world I knew as a child?  Most definitely.  We must have experienced something in order to feel comfortable with it when it comes round again.  Perhaps this is why I feel so compelled to talk to my son about the way the world used to be and how things used to be done.  Should the patterns repeat themselves in the form of our ways of life, he might just have that taste of familiarity and feel more at ease. 

Nothing lasts forever, not people, not technology, not privacy, not freedom.  What does last forever are our comfort zones and if you have enough of them, you can ease through all the changes that life brings.

Ebb and flow, ebb and flow.

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