I feel stressed and I retract my thoughts to a specific memory in my childhood;
I am seven years old, sitting in my father’s green 1970 Chevy pickup on the grey bench seat, more specifically it’s a grey seat cover that covers the original green seat. The aroma of the hot chocolate I’m holding in my gloved hands is strong. Dad had ordered it for me as I was finishing my breakfast at the Howard Johnson’s restaurant in Wooster we visited on the way to the job site. It was our regular ritual for us, having breakfast at Howard Johnson’s during our weekend drives from our home in Canal Fulton to the farm in Loudonville.
The grey floorboard has some scattered dirt and dust on it and it’s lightly raining outside. The old windshield wipers are slowly swishing back and forth, “I love a rainy night” by Eddie Rabbitt is playing on the AM radio and I can feel the warm heat blowing on my feet. I’m wearing a red hooded high-school sweatshirt with a faded eagle on it that my father used to wear his senior year of high school, jeans and a pair of over-sized work gloves ready to help my dad do some landscaping. I’m waiting on him to come back to the truck as he’s talking to the customer. I get bored and lean over to change the dial on the radio, sweeping the little red needle back and forth. I move it down to the 500 kHz range and I hear the dot-dash beeping of Morse code. I have no idea what they are spelling out, but it intrigues me.
My dad then gets into the truck and stops, looks at the radio and then at me. “What is it, dad?” I ask, referring to the beeping on the radio.
“Aliens,” he replies back matter-of-factly. My eyes grew wide.
“I’m kidding. It’s just someone sending a message by Morse code. Probably a HAM radio operator nearby.”
It’s just a memory, one of many from my childhood that brings me peace. A memory of a simpler time (for me) when money, responsibilities, and life didn’t stress me out. There was no internet, no cell phones and no need for anyone to get anything instantly.
It’s not exactly a news flash that our world feels like it is moving and changing faster than ever in recorded history. The reality is of course that it is changing at pretty much the same speed it has for the last hundred and twenty to hundred and forty years.
A little over a hundred years ago, adults (fifty and over) at the time were grappling to understand why on earth anyone would want to get from place to place so fast using a mechanical vehicle when for thousands of years horses and carriages had served just fine. Seventy years ago adults in the same age bracket were resisting the change of getting a television when a radio worked just fine for the family.
Today it befuddles many adults why technology is changing so often and why they are constantly being forced to learn the new innovative technologies. Many of the changes are beneficial, making life easier. Although the constant need to adapt to newer hardware or applications roughly every five years may not be difficult for someone in their twenties and thirties, by the time a person reaches their fifties and beyond, the ability to learn these new innovations becomes profoundly difficult.
It’s only natural to want to return to the simplicity of your youth and fifty years from now, no doubt our children will want to return to the simplicity of a hand-held mobile phone and being able to text one another to keep in touch.
It is this stress of needing to constantly change that forces many of us to reminisce about those times that were perceptively easier in our own lives. But is it healthy to do so? Retreating to those memories is a stress reliever for most people, including myself. There is, however, a difference between thinking about the past and living in it. The past is familiar, we know what happened and we know what the outcomes are of how the past played out. However, pick a memory, at that exact moment in the past your life was changing. You didn’t know what to expect or where your world would go. It stands to reason that at that moment – you thought about your past beyond then to cope with stress.
We as a civilization move on. The world moves forward and we have no choice but to move along with the flow. We may be able to divert the waters of change here and there, but ultimately there is nothing we can do to stop the fact that it changes. We will never “make things great again” and most likely things were not as ‘great’ as we remember them. The truth is, fifty years from now you will look back and remember how great things were in this time. So, as I continue to tell myself every day – enjoy your memories and hold on to them, but embrace the change of the future and work to make a difference in controlling how that change plays out.