Saturday, March 5, 2011
What is 50 years?
Fifty years....half a century....half a lifetime....a drop in time infinite....a mere spec of time to God....an entire lifetime for some....an unachievable goal for others....today....a birthday....an anniversary.....gold.....old....young.....What is 50 years really?
Fifty years ago, computers were huge machines that took entire rooms or buildings to house that processed information at a mere fraction of what man could do with pencil and paper and yet look at computers today. Computers can access information from across the world, across space, across the years with the flick of a button---or as in the case of i-pads and i-phones, with just the touch of a screen. They can fit into the palm of your hand, into just the smallest of microchips that can transform so many things into a working computerized system. Who would have thought 50 years ago that the computer would be a personalized object that so many people now feel they can't live without?--and I'll admit, I'd have a hard time doing without one.
Fifty years ago, we had mostly stay at home mothers who were there when school got out at the end of the day. They wore aprons and cooked home cooked meals that were on the table about the time the man of the house got home. Those same aprons wiped away tears, washed skinned knees, dried wet hands, and accepted flour from the evenings dinner rolls or dessert. Moms were able to use a kiss to "heal" skinned knees and elbows and sent their children back outside to play. They weren't worried about where their children were--because they were always within calling (by mouth, not by phone) distance either outside or at a neighbors house. And she knew all the neighbors. Do you know all the people that live around you? on your block? I certainly don't.
Fifty years ago, people had kitchens with ice boxes (now called refrigerators) that held ice cube trays that had to be emptied and refilled with water. People had milk delivered that was then put into the refrigerator. Grocery stores were mom and pop owned operations and you could have groceries delivered to your door. The refrigerators weren't mini computers with TVs inside the door, ice, water, and maybe even your favorite beverage delivered through the door. The food inside the refrigerator didn't hold foods that were processed to death--they were fresh from someone's garden or from the local butcher.
Fifty years ago, going to a fast food restaurant (or any restaurant for that matter) was considered a huge deal and was a special occasion. Now we stop by this place or that one on the way to work for coffee, another for a quick bite for lunch and because everyone is too tired to stop and cook, we go out for dinner. And people wonder why we're such an unhealthy and overweight nation. It doesn't take a genius to figure that one out. All the high carbs and high fats that you get from all the prefixed meals, no more playing or walking---after all, we drive around the corner to see friends instead of walking and all our game playing involves the thumbs and fingers--and we wonder why we can't lose weight. If we had to work the fields (even small ones) to tend our vegetables that would feed us all winter and until the next harvest, if we played outside and walked everywhere, we might not have to worry about what we ate. Sure our parents, grandparents and beyond ate real butter, eggs and bacon and fried foods in pig fat. But they also did more physical work in a few hours each morning (let alone all day) than most of us do in several days worth of living. They didn't have to worry about high cholesterol and fatty arteries----they worked it all off and there was nothing extra to store.
Fifty years ago, we had party lines and you had to wait for someone to get off the phone to make your call. And chances are good there was always someone listening in on what you were saying. Oh wait, 50 years ago, not every household had a phone. Well, I suppose you could say that now. After Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Mississippi Gulf Coast, many people never bothered to have "land" lines reconnected. After all, everyone in the family had access to or actually had their own cell phone number. We carry the little phones around with us like they were gold. We can't seem to get off of them. We play games on them, talk to people on them, use them as our walking rolodex, listen to music on them, watch tv on them, watch videos on them. Phones went from just a simple means of talking to someone that wasn't in the same building with you to a way of connecting with the entire world through them.
Fifty years ago, John F. Kennedy was President of the USA. We've averted the Cuban Missile Crisis, participated in the Korean War, endured the Vietnam War, lived through the Cold War, and have been involved in the war against terrorism that I wonder if will ever end. And now there is talk of another Korean War and a Civil War in Libya. We've seen good presidents and bad--I won't say which were which as each person has their own opinions on who was/is good and/or bad. Was it the person that made it good or bad? The congressmen/women we elected that made him good or bad? The circumstances they were in office under? I wonder, if the same presidents were President during a different 4-8 year period than when they served, would the same outcomes have occurred? Makes for an interesting debate topic--one I'm sure my son-in-law could debate for hours--I just don't feel like debating.
Fifty years ago, a handsome young chaplain was stationed in Korea while his beautiful young wife was in Lakeland, Florida giving birth to an innocent baby girl. A lot has occurred in the last 50 years. People have come and gone. Musicians have changed music--or in some cases just borrowed the old stuff and made it new for the younger generation. We've put a man on the moon and brought him back. Space may still be considered a foreign and ominous "place"; but it isn't nearly as foreign as it was 50 years ago. Cars have become bigger or smaller (depending on the design style), faster, sleeker, less classy (in many cases), and more fuel efficient--after decades and decades of being fuel guzzlers. The beautiful woman who bore that innocent child spent 69 years on this Earth before meeting her maker. The young chaplain? He's still a chaplain--and has been for the better part of his life. He's ministered to young and old and will until the day he meets his maker--of that I'm sure. The innocent baby girl? Well, she isn't nearly as innocent and knows a whole lot more now than then. She's grown up and married and gave birth to three wonderful children. She has divorced and remarried the second man of her dreams---dreams aren't always what they seem when they are first dreamed. In doing so, she also got two more wonderful children. She's had the privilege of watching all five of those children grown into young adults--watching each graduate high school and watching three marry and getting pictures from the fourth wedding. The youngest has introduced his (latest) dream girl to her and hopefully is taking things slowly as they are both still very young. She's had the privilege to see two of her three grandchildren and the fourth grandchild is due in August. This same woman who started out so innocent and protected has grown up through so much of a changing world. She's graduated from high school and college and earned her way in the world teaching very special children for 25 of the last 50 years. She's had joys and pains--as all of us that have lived 50 years have done.
Fifty years, I used to think of people that were 50 as being OLD and joked about them being over the hill. Mom used to say that when she got to be 50 she would no longer age--she would spend the next 50 years counting backwards. Well she didn't get to 0; but I'm so grateful for everyday that I had her with me (us). Fifty years--seems like a long time doesn't it? To a small child 50 years is forever from now. For a college graduate, it is the time that they will spend working and hoping to retire at some point. To the 87 year old father of the woman, it seems like just yesterday he had his daughter placed into his arms upon his return from Korea.
To me? Today seems just like any other day--its a day I can spend with my loved ones and family members, a day I can receive well wishes from friends I've known since junior high school or to ones I only know through games on the social network. Today, is my 50th birthday. No big surprise that I made it to 50 I guess. We're living in an age where it is rare for people not to see their 50th birthday. But still, I feel like its somewhat of an accomplishment that I've made it this far. I'm blessed beyond imagination through God's love and hopefulness in me and people in general. I've lived in so many places and experienced things that only could be experienced because of Dad being in the military, me being married to one man for almost 20 years and my being married to another for 7 1/2 years.
Our experiences in life--good or bad-- are what makes us. And the past 50 years worth of experiences are what makes me ME! There are things about me that some don't like. Guess what--there are things about me I don't like either. But there are so many more things that I hope people do like about me. If not, I'm not going to try to be molded into someone that fits into someone else's perfect mold of who I should be. I am Me, I can't be anyone else. Whole or broken, with or without the different pieces of my personality, my being, my ME-ness--I am who I am.
Now I am starting on the next 50 years of experiences. I wonder what new things will be achieved in the next 50 years. Hopefully, I'll be around all 50 of those years to find out. So, who among you will join me for the next 50 years of experiences? Will you be someone I experience new (or old) things with? Will you be someone that just passes through my life unnoticed? Will I be someone that just passes you by unnoticed? Who knows. But we have the next 50 years to experience it together---one way or the other.