Monday’s Musings: No Time

I’m not the first to make this observation and I won’t be the last. But this is what I’m musing about today: Before mankind had so many time-saving inventions, it seems we had more time.

Before convenience foods, when women cooked everything from scratch on a woodstove, families had time to eat dinner together. Breakfast, too. But now, we’re too busy.

We have cars to take us great distances quickly and efficiently, but we seldom find the time to stay home.

You know how historians get their information about famous people long deceased? One trove of accurate information often available is the letters they wrote in which they expressed their opinions, dispensed advice, shared their hopes and fears, or described their experiences. These were almost always written by hand in the flickering light of a candle, with a pen (or quill) dipped in ink. How many of these priceless vignettes of real life do we moderns produce, despite having more convenient means to do so?

You say our electronic record is more comprehensive and durable? I don’t know the future, but I don’t buy the idea that anything electronic is permanent. And does anyone think TV and movies accurately portray our world?

There was a time when people sat on their front porches in the evening and talked. When people paid a call instead of picking up the phone and making one. When grown children had time to tend to their elderly parents.

Yes, I know: it takes money to live, and we have to work. But all these new things contribute vastly to the expense. In our family, we pay DirecTV $80 every month. Eighty dollars — every month — for the privilege of turning our brains to jelly. That doesn’t include the cost of the TV itself, the electricity it uses, or our Netflix subscription. What do you spend on your phone and internet services, not to mention the hardware? Before people had cars, they didn’t have car payments, nor insurance or service and repair bills, nor any of the other myriad auto-related expenses that pick our pockets.

When we used our muscles instead of automatic machines, it may have taken longer to get the job done (though not necessarily); however, the labor allowed us to use our bodies the way they were intended, thus eliminating the need for expensive gym memberships. Incorporating a work-out in our everyday activities was, in the long run, more efficient and cost-effective than the way most people do things now.

I’m not lamenting “the good old days,” because in many ways, they weren’t all that good. Besides which, when we keep looking back, we’ll likely trip over something.

I’m merely observing how these improvements enable us to more efficiently lose sight of what’s important.

 

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