Life In The Fast Lane Surely Make You Lose Your Mind (Thank You, Eagles)
Nowadays, we have the many conveniences at our fingertips that we could only imagine 30 years ago. And imagine we did. We tried to imagine what life would be like with computers, laptops, remote phones, the Internet, cable television. I found it very hard to imagine, almost impossible since it was so far from our reality at the time. How wonderful it would be to be able to actually have a phone in your pocket when you're at the mall, for example, and you see something that perhaps your dearest husband would love, so you think you may call him and just see if you're right. Or imagine how perfectly fabulous it would be to have a portable computer that DOESN'T need a WIRE to connect to the Internet. Imagine going to Starbucks (which didn't exist 30 years ago, I know) and bringing your laptop and being able to surf the Internet while you relax in a cozy wing chair and sip a Venti Caramel Macchiato with extra whipped cream and caramel swirls (I feel fatter already). Imagine being able to get answers to essay questions without having to put on a coat, get on the bus and go to the library, hoping a pervert won't attach himself to you and ogle you from behind the bookshelves. The possibilities are endless.
Well, that day is here. And I don't like it.
Well, okay. I can't say I don't like it with every single fibre of my being. I admit that there are times when the convenience of having a cell phone in my bag is pretty damn awesome, or when being able to just quickly go to Google to look up that gnawing question you've had about whether or not astronauts can eat beans before going up into space (FYI, they can't) is beyond orgasmic. Yes, I too greatly enjoy having these moments of immediate gratification when highspeed wifi is mentioned in casual conversation. I'll be one of the first to admit that immediacy can be a wild and wonderful thing.
Where it goes awfully wrong is here: the expectations society now has for immediate gratification, immediate responses, and immediate happiness are overwhelmingly limitless, and are creating a lot of misery for a lot of unsuspecting people. Gone are the days when Sundays were for lolling around the house, reading a book, going for a long walk, or just napping. Now, Sundays are "catch-up" days, days to get caught up on homework, shopping, cleaning, work, work and work. People look at you strangely if you stay in your pajamas all day, accusing you of laziness. Stores are open seven days a week. Banks are automatized to the extent that it feels strange to walk up to an actual human teller. Television shows are in high definition, with stereo audio, and are able to be recorded to be viewed whenever you come home. The channels now available are infinite, so if you really wanted to, you could find something interesting to watch at any time of the day or night. At the store and not sure if there's milk at home? Easy. Grab your cell and you've got the answer in seconds. Need to get hold of your Realtor? You expect a response within minutes, if not seconds. If your computer doesn't load immediately (read 'dial-up'), you get frustrated and want to pull your hair out. Everything is now now now, and five minutes feels more like five years. Stress levels go up, patience and acceptance go down, smiles decrease while forehead furrows get deeper. Do you feel the stress?
I have found, over the past 10 years or so, that my life has gotten more stressful, more nerve-racking, more busy. And it's more than I can honestly handle. My brain is on overload at all times, and it's all I can do to simply remember my name some days. I no longer handle stress well, and I find that any little blip in the day is cause for me to unravel. I start to sweat profusely, my hands tremble, and I find my breathing gets shallow and rapid. I'm a veritable mess.
It's just the way it is now. And try as I might to avoid all aspects of today's digitized and hair-trigger life, I know I too have been sucked deep into its mysterious appeal, its glamour, its seeming necessity. I truly like having information when I want it, and relatively effortlessly. I love having the ability to easily contact someone if I'm stranded in my car. I love shopping online and avoiding store line-ups and ignorant people who block aisles with their carts and enormous asses.
What I don't love so much, and what frightens me, is the impatience, anger and self-centredness that occur as a result of people being accustomed to this new world of immediate gratification. Adults and children alike expect everything NOW, not unlike Veruca Salt in 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (which I adore, by the way). If traffic is slow, horns start blaring, angers flare, heart rates climb. If there's nothing on television to soothe the savage beast when it wants soothing, watch out! If the Internet breaks down momentarily, we all freak out and start waving our hands around, screaming like a Banshee and believing the world is about to come to an end.
I have often wanted, and seriously given thought, to moving to Italy or Mexico, somewhere where life is slow, meals are enjoyed, waiting is to be expected, and afternoon siestas are an integral part of the day. People take their time to enjoy the day, the meal, the sensation of the wind blowing through their hair, instead of texting while they eat their Ready-in-15-Minutes-Or-It's-Free pasta. They have wine with their meals, they laugh and talk while they work, and priorities are family, happiness, and LIVING LIFE, instead of just getting through the day doing as much as possible. Success should be measured in terms of laughter, smiles and love, not by how many tasks we got done, or how quickly we got from Point A to Point B.
Although my children are deep into all that I kind of sort of abhor in today's society, Mr. Handsome and I do try to instill in them a sense of what we feel is truly important in life: family, friends, acts of kindness, love, generosity, the Golden Rule, and being happy with what you've got instead of always wantingwantingwanting moremoremore. It's difficult when they are surrounded by children who get what they want when they want it, and always have the newest fashions, the best hairstyles, the coolest toys. All we can do is keep trying and reminding them, and hoping that they will someday pass on these beliefs and qualities to their children. And then, they can just throw all their doodads, big screen tvs, and Wii games over to us!