by Martha Smith
The more time goes by, the more we look back and reminisce. We’ve all seen the posts online for the 70s, 80s, 90s babies. The one with the picture of a water hose? Have you seen the ones with the slip and slides, concrete reinforced foundations on old school playgrounds, the street lights that came on to signal time to head home, lawn darts, etc. Remember keeping a small photo album in your bag next to the little planner and address book? Or spending the weekend with the newest VHS movie you just rented? You know – the good old days. If we compare the last 20, 30, 40 years to today, the differences are staggering.
More often than not here recently, we’ve probably been marveling at how we used to hug each other in the middle of Walmart. Remember general admission at concerts? Standing shoulder to shoulder, front to back and loving every minute of it? Remember church?
Am I the only one jumping in alarm when someone in a movie touches the seat of a bus and the door handle and then their face? Remember when you didn’t even look twice at a child licking their desk or the lunch table? Remember water fountains?
Over dinner the other night, Dad was talking about his childhood. He told about how when he was six years old, he snuck out of school and had walked all the way to North Sauty Creek before his teacher’s car topped the hill, and she picked him up on the side of the road and brought him back. He talked about hauling water for long stretches for a couple who would reward him with a chicken leg. He went into detail about picking cotton and fishing and being a nervous wreck during the classroom gift exchange because he was the poorest kid in the class, and he knew whoever received his gift was going to be bitterly disappointed. (Sue Moore, if you’re reading this, his gift to you of marbles wrapped in brown paper and tied with string still haunts him to this day.)
As I sat and listened, I marveled at how much had changed between his childhood and mine, and I wondered if he had looked at my childhood while it was happening and pondered the same thing. I wondered if he looked at the world today and just didn’t know where the good old days had gone to. At what point in time did he think to himself, “Wow. That escalated quickly.”
No doubt he has found himself wondering about our obsession with smart phones and smart TVs, social media platforms, video games. When did face-to-face become a phone call, and when did that become a text, and when did words become emojis, and when did this become enough?
The truth is, we surrounded ourselves with technology and ignored each other – genuine human contact, eye contact, handshakes, hugs – verbally connecting with each other face to face. And then suddenly, human contact was taken away, along with our faces and our smiles, and this technology we had immersed ourselves in suddenly wasn’t enough anymore.
Now, why is that?
The fact that we found it so difficult, so disturbing and devastating, is heartening. The reason we grieve is encouraging. Maybe the good old days aren’t gone after all. Just like my father’s generation has adapted, I think we can, too.
With this in mind, we hope each of you find yourselves savoring what really matters to you during this holiday season. These times have found us racking our brains for every possible way to stay in each other’s lives, be it work, home, school, across continents, we have found a way. We made it work. We have encouraged and hoped, supported and prayed. Where we have found ourselves in this unprecedented predicament, we’ve done just that – found ourselves. May the coming year find us grateful for who and what we have, and may we never forget just how long it took to get here.