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February 8, 2010

I was reminiscing about my grandmother last week.  She passed on 19 years ago, but I still miss her so much.  I was with my uncle one afternoon, talking over coffee, about what she experienced at her point in history in America, how she was with her family, her profession as a seamstress, and so on.  Sharing in memories of how she lived always leaves me feeling close to her, even though I’m not able to be with her each day.  It also leaves me in awe because of what she did and accomplished without today’s technology.

I often find myself thinking how every bit of progress each generation makes, it seems that some things are lost.  Maybe it’s because we didn’t have the same life experiences.  It wouldn’t be possible for me to connect on a personal level with what it was like to be an immigrant, to come to a country not able to speak the language, what it was like to be a woman in the 1930’s, what it was like to wash clothes with a ringer washer, what it was like to live through the depression, what it was like to be widowed with a young family. 

Now just as much as I can’t relate to those experiences, I try to understand how my children sometimes can’t relate or appreciate experiences I have had through my life.  My children can’t understand what it was like to have a phone that hung on a wall, instead of in a pocket.  My children can’t appreciate what it was like to have one car per family, to not have a computer, to walk to school, to have 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and about 1,000 square feet of living space for a family of 6.  But yet, somehow I still expect them to understand where I am coming from as I relate to them–to have the same appreciation for things as I do.

Oh my gosh!  This is one of those, “I am becoming my parents moments”.  I often find myself saying that the current generation just doesn’t get it—“kids these days!”.  Then I realize, as sad, and as wonderful, that thought is, at the same time, it isn’t possible for a generation to fully appreciate a previous generation because we haven’t experienced THAT LIFE for ourselves. It’s pretty unrealistic to think that we could transcend generations–because we don’t have any of the same points of reference.

I am thankful for the many things my children can’t relate to such as segregation, the draft, paddling, boys being told not to cry, litter on public roads and waters, etc., but I feel sorry for them for not being able to relate to stores being closed on Sundays, only having 6 TV channels to choose from, thinking going out to dinner meant the family went to McDonald’s for a burger and fry, being able to play outside with neighborhood kids before 5pm outside of a daycare setting, getting one or two special and cherished gifts for a birthday or holiday, having to share rooms, working together in the yard as a family on a Saturday, being completely entertained laying on the front lawn with their best friend finding the shape of a puppy in the clouds, laying in bed on a hot summer night on sheets that hung in the sun that day, listening to the sound of the crickets outside the bedroom window as they drift off to sleep.

I think technology has changed much of the way we and our children experience life.  With all the advances in technology over the decades that have made our lives more comfortable such as air conditioning, chain restaurants, cell phones, video games, lawn services, 24 hour shopping, it seems that we have lost the sense of appreciating the simple.  We can’t expect our children to appreciate what it was like to have to sit out on the front porch on a hot summer day because it was just too hot in the house—because most of them have grown up with whole house air conditioning.  They don’t have a point of reference for that experience. 

Unfortunately I think technology has prevented the younger generations from tapping into their senses and emotions.  They haven’t been encouraged to use their imaginations, be patient, be creative, associate the good feelings that come from chatting on that porch while sipping cool, sweaty glasses of iced tea.  Technology and home services do so much we aren’t encouraged to work collaboratively, have manners, be polite, open our minds to the ideas of others and the bond as families–machines don’t require that type of effort.

When I was younger, we didn’t have a lot of money, I didn’t get a lot of stuff, but when I think back to what I did get…love, appreciation, gratitude, a sense of taking care of what I did have, love of a family…I think it was all PRICELESS!

I think my generation has the opportunity to bridge the gap.  I believe we can appreciate the values and simplicity of the past generations and the technology of the present/future generations–because we have lived with both.  I believe that we can offer the benefits of both worlds to preserve the “FEELING” in the world by teaching our children and living lives that allow technology to enhance our lives–not rule it. 

What are some of the things you remember about being young and growing up,that your parents and grandparents did that helped create the amazing person you are today?   How can you allow technology to help you so that you can spend the time doing the same things with your kids to help them develop that attribute as well??


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