Archive for August, 2015

Maple Leaf

For everything, there is a season, it has been foretold. When I was young and green, securely clinging to the branches of my family Sugar Maple tree, I thought it was the best I would ever be. But  here, now,  in the Autumn season of my life , rich with vibrant color that represents the wisdom of my age, I see what then,  I did not know.   Green to yellow to orange to red, I have graced this landscape with the glory of my aging, and have brought pleasure and beauty to my Mother Earth.  I release my grip from the branch on which I was raised, and flutter slowly to the ground with grace, knowing that returning to the earth from whence I came is my destiny in the cycle of life, and I will return, in season. 

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Every day I see another rant, post or meme, from the older generation, knocking technology, particularly smart phones or social networking, claiming the development of these things has produced a generation of antisocial idiots. I for one am 60 years old. I grew up having to get my information from encyclopedias, dictionaries and telephone books. If a question arose, or we needed information, we had to wait until we could get access to these resources to find out what we needed to know.

We preserved our memories with snapshots taken with cameras that required purchasing film, and then turning in the film to be processed into photos. There were no selfies or unexpected moments captured instantly. If you did not happen to have a loaded camera on you, the moment was gone only to be preserved in your memory. We never knew how the photos turned out until we paid for the batch and got them back.

We escaped our mundane lives, by traveling to far away places, or living an adventure, through books that we borrowed from the library. We were allowed a limited number of books, and when we returned them on time we could borrow more.

We had transistor radios that we carried around waiting to hear our favorite songs when the station decided to play them. If we wanted to listen to music we loved anytime we wanted, we had to purchase records and tapes, if we could afford to, that is.

When people we loved moved away, we could only keep in touch through writing letters, mailing them, and waiting for them to write us back. Or talk on the phone if it was not a long distance call. We could only talk as long as someone else in our household did not want to use the phone. We could only hear their voice, or read about their lives in a letter.

I could go on and on, but let me fast forward to my life today. I do not think I was any worse for the wear growing up this way. But I also do not think I am any worse for the wear living my older years in the technology age either, if I embrace it and do not close my mind to its endless possibilities and its potential to enrich my life in a positive way.   Actually this shift has made me much more informed and knowledgeable about the world around me. It has also forced me to keep my mind open and always learning.

I have had access to the internet at home, through a desktop computer for about 13 years now. I currently own an ipad, a kindle tablet and a Smartphone. If I need to know something no matter where I am I have instant access to endless sources of information at my fingertips. I can capture any unexpected moment with a photo, and can review that photo instantly and retake it if I need to, then instantly share it with loved ones.

I love to read. And I still visit the library, and new and old book stores occasionally, because I love the charm and nostalgia. But I also have a wealth of books available to me at my fingertips on my portable wireless devices, whenever or wherever the mood may strike. I used to love to listen to audio books on tape or CD in order to read while riding a bike, or running or even housecleaning. But back in the day, it required, again, purchasing or obtaining these audio books from the library, and playing them on a cumbersome CD or tape player. Now I have any book I want to listen to at my fingertips on any of my multiple portable devices.

My children, grandchildren, parents and siblings all live in other states. But I can see their faces every day if I choose, through a Facetime call, or Skype, or a social network status that just informed me that my Grandson got a base hit in his game today, complete with photos of the special moment or even a video. I can play a game with a friend, relative or stranger from anywhere in the world. This would not have been possible in my youth.

I carry my Smartphone everywhere. Yes it is my phone and people can call me on it anywhere but oh it is so much more. It is a portable connection to my world. It is my camera, my video camera, my books, my dictionary, encyclopedia and history book. It is my telephone book, my US mail service, my portable bank, newspaper, television, radio. It’s my writing paper, stationary, journal and my game board. It’s my access to an instant coupon while standing at the register in a store. It’s a long-awaited correspondence from a friend and a reconnection to an old friend. Most importantly it’s my connection to loved ones I don’t see sometimes for months.

I have only scratched the surface. But I think I have made my point. Balance makes a healthy life. Although I can instantly pull up a beautiful high-definition photo of an autumn forest scene and post it on my Facebook page along with an inspiring quote, by no means does that take the place of an actual walk in that forest hearing those words of inspiration rained down on my spirit by my creator. It has not replaced these moments of walks in nature nor face to face conversations with people, nor real hugs rather than cyber hugs. It has only added to these life experiences, making connections with people and the world around us possible despite obstacles. One of the most loving families I know today are a high technology family. But they also hug and talk and play together even more than I remember doing in my childhood.

My fellow older folks. Please lets not label and generalize about an entire generation because we as humans obsess a bit too much over things that are new and exciting to us. Every generation has that challenge. Remember the weird girl in school who always had her nose in a book, a physical book? We called her a bookworm. She was antisocial because she did not know how to balance what she loved with what she needed. She is not much different from the 15 year old girl with a smartphone today that has to be reminded about balance. Remember being so obsessed with your favorite band that you walked around with your radio or tape player to your ear and did not socialize with the relatives when they came by, or how your parents complained because you spent too much time in your room listening to your records instead of hanging out with the family. My grandmother used to always comment on how music in her day was something the whole family shared together. In her day, every child learned to play the piano, every household had one, and each evening after dinner the family would sit around and listen to one another perform. This family tradition had died or was dying when I was growing up in the age of musical recordings. We didn’t grow up stupid, untalented  or antisocial because of it. In fact we raised the genius kids who invented all this technology that some, like myself enjoy in my Golden years. It would be narrow minded to presume that because this generation learns differently than we did, they are not smart.  The tech savvy people I know are pretty brilliant. Have you ever had a five year old show you how to download an application to your phone ?

I know there will still be some who will disagree with me, and by no means am I suggesting that  everyone should have a smart phone. If it’s not your thing, do without it, but I will end by saying this. Technology is by far, not the enemy of our grandchildren’s future. There are much worse threats out there.

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