For many family members, the gathering around the table to share a meal still exists, where a certain time and place become sacrosant, and traditions continue for generations. It was that way for my family back in Italy when I was growing up; it was mostly that way during our children's growing up years, the seventies, the eighties, the nineties. Yet, at about the middle of the seventies, the computer appeared, and families were using it for a variety of things. My children gravitated to it early in their lives, and their education and recreation were accommodated by the many uses the computer served.
To say that we lost those good times when we all sat around the dinner table, or fussed together to put a meal on the table before sitting down, and shared our daily issues with each other because today we no longer take that time to sit together is being nostalgic at the least, and plain insensitive to our modern world for the most part. We lead a much busier life than ever before; and our work follows us home, and even on vacation.
We are connected, and can choose to be so one hundred per cent of the time. Or not. We can "unplug" and choose not to answer phones and check emails or facebook messages. We choose to stay active or not. We choose to remain in a circle of friends and relatives, or not. We choose to know a lot about politics, or not. We choose. And we have many ways to stay involved that we forget many times that all of it, the drama and the comedy will go on whether we are involved or not.
In my lifetime, I saw the electric grid connect our house to the rest of town close to the time I started school. Good thing too, or homework would have been sloppy. The radio was next, a great big contraption that became the gathering place soon after supper. We sat, staring at the radio till late in summer, listening to the world's news, and the world's music. When television arrived at the neighbor's house, we were invited after supper and accepted with gratitude for the opportunity to sit quietly for a Perry Como's special around Thanksgiving. The lavish table was set with abundant food and festive decorations, representing what American homes were like. I remember going home after that program and dreaming about America. I was already living in another world five years before that thought became a reality.
Not once, in our technological evolution did we say to each other, we can't have this device that allows me to work anywhere, to work faster, communicate instantly across the universe, understand the world and its forces with better clarity. We are inventors and dreamers, constantly seeking ways to improve our understandings and capabilities.
We could blame our misery to fire, to the first force we discovered that changed our taste buds, and our survival rate. And from there, every single thing we have shaped out of the elements to create, connect, improve and lift us into another world, another space. Or, we could set a lavish table now and then, and give thanks to our ancestors and public education where we learned to connect the dots in unusual ways so we could have running hot water at the touch of a faucet.
Yes, we are still the humans on the prairies, or the caves, hunting for food, collecting wood and poking holes in shells. Only now, we have more choices on how to live, and we have more choices on how to stay together. As we become more fragile, we no longer have to visit our doctors for check ups; we no longer have to wait days and weeks for test results; we no longer have to collect wild herbs and make a poultice for our hacking cough. Our worlds have shrunk. But our horizons have expanded.
It's a great time to live.