The door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, he sold you the world – and a bill of goods, but more than that he offered a chance to open your eyes, your horizons and without a doubt your mind. That was of course if you could make payments past the volume Aa-Az, otherwise you knew a lot about ants, aardvarks, Antarctica and Alaska. Yup cold as hell and the weirdest petting zoo anyone would ever care to see – but you could make conversation.
It was so much more though – the era, the people and what we wanted in life. Housewives were still desperate, but they read books at night, and tried to better themselves from the life they had sold out for, school was gold stars, talent shows and book reports, reading from SRA kits jumping a new color with pride and newspapers gave us home and the world, along with “funnies” that everyone shared, and laughed. A great way to open a family moment was simply to check in with Family Circus or Nancy and Sluggo, and someone was bound to say ‘hey remember when we did that…” I guess the common denominator then was “When we wanted to learn or enjoy something, we made the effort for it.”
My grandson asked me to buy him something the other day, we located it on the computer and he looked at me like I had a Jetson/Star Trek replicator and said “well, get it so the mail will come.” Okay, he is 4 but the reality is, that is who we have become. There is no thought into what we buy or look for; and it is a far cry from the Sears or Spiegel catalog which we pondered over, budgeted and waiting for the box to arrive. In a matter of seconds we jump onto EBay, buy something, pay for it online and in some cases, it really is at our door the next morning. But are we happy about it or just programmed to be complete?
We don’t really work for anything of value anymore. Information is digitized, and we are Tweeted, Emailed and Texted, minute by minute with updates of news, gossip and plain stupid, that after a while doesn’t even sink in anymore. The joy of hunting down a fact, feeling satisfied at learning something and then sharing it has all but disappeared, like the Fuller Brush Man (go ahead and Google it for the love of mike, so you have the concept). People just don’t ask what did you learn today, or anything new? And if they do, they don’t really mean it, because we all have the same information, and no one really looks past it for more depth or value. We’ve become a highly educated stupid society.
I’ve always believed if you didn’t do or learn something new each day, you have wasted that day in your life and it will never be coming back, waste enough of them and neither will you. When we become a person who lives on the bubble, it just as bad as being a bubble head. Why is it we have accepted the norm of having a 5 second delay ticker for updates and entertainment in our lives, when it is so much more gratifying and valuable, to take the time, walk away and discover it first hand, in depth and in full context.
One thing I always prided myself on was visiting the buffet of knowledge. Pick up a little of this and that, and you can carry on a conversation with just about anyone, and in the process add to what you already know. I suppose this generation does the same thing, but standing next to a group texting each other just isn’t the same.
Yes, the sky is blue – past that? John Tyndall in 1859 discovered when light passes through a clear fluid holding small particles in suspension, the shorter blue wavelengths are scattered more strongly than the red. This can be demonstrated by shining a beam of white light through a tank of water with a little milk or soap mixed in. From the side, the beam can be seen by the blue light it scatters; but the light seen directly from the end is reddened after it has passed through the tank. The scattered light can also be shown to be polarized using a filter of polarized light, just as the sky appears a deeper blue through Polaroid sun glasses.
Maybe that’s why Apple’s Suri is such a hit on the cell phone now – she offers more than just a quick ticker, and when you ask her a question if she isn’t busy – gawd did I really say that about an electronic application? She’ll give you an answer like a close friend. It’s almost as warm and cozy, as life when I grew up, and would “go ask my Dad,” which I did often, and we had great conversations, a wonderful relationship and memories I’ll cherish forever.
As for my life? Yeah, it was worth it – and I plan to make sure it continues to be that way, as I learn a little more here and there, so I can share it when the time is right, laughing at the card catalog in my head, which has nothing to do with Hallmark, and is yet another thing someone will need to look up to appreciate.