Unplanned Obsolescence



A protractor, a jump rope, and a steno pad.  All things I mastered and figured having those skills made me a well rounded person.  I thought that in combination, I might be considered a bit strange (imagine that) but individually,  they might be skills that I could teach others, or get paid to know or have a future with.  The jump rope might be a stretch, I’ll concede.  Knowing how to use a protractor would gain me engineering skills.  For those near and dear to me, I imagine they are rolling their eyes as I am the least precise person that they know.  This is why I use the terminology “more or less” , ” approximately” and “my best guesstimate would be…”.  We can’t be good at everything or there would be a lot of redundancy.  In high school I took, on the advice of my mother and guidance counselor (two separate women), shorthand.  It was the 1960’s and the women’s movement was building momentum, but if I didn’t join, I could get  a good job as a secretary and take dictation.  I still have a few moves, which I use….NEVER!

Sometimes I imagine explaining to my granddaughters that I know things that were fun and helpful back in the dark ages.  Nothing required batteries and we used them to figure out things.  Actually, the jump rope could be used as a tool to measure distance, so there you go.  Something fun that is now an exercise tool.  In reality, my sense of balance and timing excluded me from double dutch and jumping in and in fact, just jumping in place risked my tripping over the rope as it came down or whacking myself in the head with it. I was dogged in my attempt to master it and I found, although it was a game with others, I took it as a solitary pursuit.

Looking back is realizing that progress is hard to measure when you are in the moment.  What we thought would be the future was beyond our imagination.  My grandmother, who was born in 1887 and died in 1978 was fascinated by mobile homes and we often took her to shows where she could climb into the ones that could be driven and she would examine the cabinetry and storage and would marvel at how compact and clever they were.  She wanted to fly in an airplane and in her late 80s, she and my father flew from New York to Massachusetts so she could have that experience and she loved it.  I guess it would be akin to my wanting to ride in one of the first space crafts when I was a ten year old.  I wanted to know what it would be like to be weightless and float around.  Anything greater than that was the stuff of movies and  H.G. Wells novels.

When I think about the things we have now I  realize that I didn’t imagine that I needed anything more to do life with.  Driving a car was a hope that was realized and having a phone in my room as a teenager, with my own phone number, was a very big deal.  The world was big enough and even with my imagination, my dreams and hopes were based in my future as an individual, being productive and independent.  Navigating by public transportation in New York City was through maps and memorization and asking people for directions.  There was my competency.  Interactions with others was valuable, and the skill in the art of conversation was the subject of books to improve your chances and choices in life.  I sense I am ranting.  The irony is that writing this discourse is possible now because of all I never expected or imagined.  Those of us who write blogs, or posts or texts or emails, are published, actually self published, with the help of many others, I will never know or know by name.  With every word and sentence sent, we attempt to connect with others and share our frame of minds in that moment.  We have learned to react through Twitter and other social media links, or respond through emails.  We fight virtual battles through clouds and  data and never look in the other person’s eyes or see their smiles or tears or frustration or pride.  We may have more ways to communicate what WE are thinking but are often disconnected by those we truly want to reach.  We can say hug, but we can’t really feel it and there is nothing like a good, old fashioned pat on the back, hug and feel of the energy between human beings.  I see the change, I participate in it, and yet, I feel that a jump rope was a short distance between two people and you can’t copy, send or paste that.

Have a good week.  Send a postcard.


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