Thursday, July 17, 2008

My, How Time Has Changed

[photo courtesy of Dick Whitney Southbridge Page]

I miss how slow life once was. I remember how things were before the computer became an item in every household. I'm about to really date myself here but I also remember the excitement my parents had when we got our first microwave. I'll never forget trying to cook something in the "magic box" for the first time. And let's not get started on the cell phone! My Mom's first "cell phone" was carried in it's own bag and had an actual cord, we called it a brick-in-a-bag. It wasn't really a convenience back then but everyone couldn't wait to have one. Now we've got the iPhone, Blackberry, Razor, and so forth. All of which are small enough to shove in your back pocket and forget about until your next phone call.

When did our lives get so busy that it necessitated that we need a phone on us at all times? We have a cell phone but we only got it after Violet was born. Before she was born, Gregg and I were content without a cell phone. I remember the expressions we received by some people when we were asked for our cell number and we'd tell them we didn't have one. The shock on their faces were entertaining to say the least.

It seems we have no privacy anymore. The very things that were created to make our lives simpler have made it more chaotic, the exception being the microwave. Having computers in the home make it easier to have access to things. I wonder how many homes own an encyclopedia set now? Do children even know what an encyclopedia is anymore? All the information we need is at our fingertips in our very own homes. I'd wager that there are children who have never set foot in a library and I cannot begin to describe how much that saddens me. It's a wonderful experience to open an old book and to smell the pages come to life as you inhale it's bouquet. A computer is great to have but you miss the experience of a good book if you only read a computer screen. There's something to be said of opening a book and feeling its weight in your hands, turning the pages in anticipation of what's next.

I'm not complaining about the so-called-conveniences we have today but it seems like we keep pushing the envelope. We live in a world of excess. Everyone seems to want something bigger or better than what they already have. I'm no exception to that trap. We have a perfectly good cell phone and yet I catch myself drooling over the iPhone. And what I wouldn't give to have a MacBook! But I don't need these things and am doing fine without them. But seriously, is it just me who remembers when life wasn't so fast paced? I remember sitting at the table with my parents each night for dinner, it was a treat for us to eat out. Now, there are kids who think all their meals should be packaged in a paper bag and their biggest decision is whether they "want fries with that".

Our sense of family and community have gone the way of the American front porch. It wasn't too long ago when everyone knew each child in their neighborhood. People looked out for one another and their kids. We knew when there was a stranger who didn't belong in the neighborhood and kept a closer eye on the children, keeping them safe. Children respected their elders. Some may have only respected them out of fear of their parents using a "switch" on them if they heard otherwise but they rarely "sassed" the adults. Now, you rarely see people sitting on their front porches in the evenings. The new house designs are even showing this trend, most don't even have a front porch. As a result of the fading front porch, and the lack of community, kids aren't out playing with one another in the streets like they once did. And, there's an obvious lack of respect for our elders that was once there.

Kids are enrolled in so many programs that it's difficult to keep up with who does what and where. It's as if we think we need to keep our kids so busy that they have no room to think or to entertain themselves. Each spare moment has to be filled with an activity. If they're not eating, sleeping, or in school then kids should be playing an instrument or a sport. And this is just with one child, imagine how busy life is when there is more than one in the mix.

Why is it so difficult for a family to sit down with one another and spend time together enjoying each other's company? Are we afraid that our family members won't love us if we're around them? Could it be we feel guilty for the time we spend away from them and therefore use these things to fill that void, only to create a bigger one? I don't have the answers to these questions, I wish I did. What I do know is that a schedule shouldn't dictate our lives.

We need to make time with our family a priority. Wouldn't it be lovely to be able to sit back and relax with your family on a regular basis? Our time is the greatest gift we can give to those we love. Take the time to give your loved ones a hug and let them know you love them. After all, children may remember the activities they were involved in but what they'll remember the most is the time you spent with them.

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