Thursday, April 10, 2008

Slowing down in a fast-paced life

Awhile back, we made the switch from dial-up Internet to satellite service. We were frustrated with the slow pace of dial-up, not to mention the fact that it tied up the phone line and would, on occasion, dial itself over the top of my husbands’ telephone conversations, resulting in an ear-splitting shrieking noise followed by a string of expletives.

For the most part, the only aspect of satellite Internet service that I don’t enjoy is paying the bill each month. Lately, though, I have begun to wonder if we’re falling into the trap of society that requires us to need everything faster, better, and more expensive in order to be satisfied.

When I was a kid, we had a party line telephone, which meant we could not just pick up the phone and make a call. To this day, I pick up the phone and listen to see if someone else is on the line before I dial. We learned patience when we waited for the neighbors to finish their conversations before making our calls.

We also had to plan ahead and be patient when in the kitchen. When we defrosted meat, it wasn’t in the microwave; we planned ahead. We didn’t reheat leftovers in a minute and 30 seconds; we waited for them to heat up on the stove or in the oven, and in the meantime we sat down, conversed, and relaxed. While the convenience of the microwave saves time, it is another example of our apparent need for instant gratification, and it also creates frenzied mealtimes because we know that we don’t have to plan ahead.

In my childhood, when we wanted to hear the news, we either waited for the radio to report it or we waited for the 5:30 news on television. Now we turn on a 24-hour news station on television or type in an Internet address to find out anything we want (or don’t want) to know. Because repeating the same old news every 10 minutes was boring, these stations began digging deeper into stories and reporting more news items, and eventually they began sensationalizing the news so that we would pay attention. Now we are saturated with reports that we really don’t need to know about.

I am astonished at people’s reliance on cell phones. Ten years ago, I noticed on a trip to the city that everyone seemed to be holding one up to their ear, chatting as they shopped, ate, or drove. Now everyone has devices that hook onto their ears like some kind of plastic growth, and they walk around talking into thin air. If someone awoke from a 10-year coma, they would think we had all lost our minds and talked to ourselves all the time.

The unfortunate consequence to this phenomenon is that we are losing connections with each other even as we think we’re staying connected. For example, the people who are on the phone constantly often have bored-looking children trailing after them. There is no interaction with the children, no sharing of an experience together; after all, whoever is on the phone is clearly more important than the child. There is no smile and greeting when you meet someone on the stairs because they are too busy talking on the phone to notice your presence. There is no “getting away from it all” because we are so intent on taking it all with us all the time.

I’m not sure where the line is between something that is a convenience for us and something that inconveniences us. Cell phones are useful tools, but they can also make us slaves to their ringing.

When I found myself checking my email 10 times a day just because the computer was always connected anyway, I realized I was slipping into this world myself. It’s easy enough to do. Luckily, I have four little demanding voices that drag me back into real life.

Once again, I find myself grateful for our slower country pace of life. We can’t be slaves to our cell phones here because we don’t get service. We can’t grab dinner at the drive-through because it’s 50 miles away.

I’m thankful for the gravel roads that make us slow down, talk to the kids about their day at school, and go home to a supper cooked slowly in the oven all afternoon. After all, if we're moving at the fast pace of life these days, we miss all the moments like this:


Julia said...

I'm new to your blog and felt it would be polite to introduce myself. My name is Julia and I live in Sweden with my husband and our two year old daughter Sanna. I have to tell you that I absolutely love your blog, I can't stop reading it. For me, a city girl, you live a fantastic life. It seems hard at times, but I also think that the rewards of living a calmer life, one where you can let your kids play outside without having to watch them all the time, and to be able to give them a life where they can interact with animals, it just seems blessed. I usually never have problems with writing down my thoughts, but you leave med speechelss (or perhaps writeless? :D )I am happy to have found this place, your place, to read about and remind myself to slow down and dream of open fields and fresh air.
Take care of eachother.
Love Julia

Treasia said...

What a beautiful and oh so true post today Erin. Never forget to stop and take time to enjoy the slower pace of life. I agree about the patience part of it as well. It seems we all want things fast, fast and faster these days.

Trista said...

Hi Erin,
I've been reading your blog for a couple of weeks. I absolutely love your writing style. My favorites are your recipes. Please keep them coming. When you were speaking of patience in your post today, it made me think of something my husband wrote. He leaves little notes in the morning before work and he knew I had been frustrated the night before. The kids were tugging at my legs and yelling "MOM" from the other room. His note said, "All the "mom, this mom that" is going to pay off in the end because they'll know that you are always there for them." It really put things in perspective for me and made me realize that they are why I am here.
Thanks for adding to that perspective.
Trista from NE

Let Them Be Little said...

So true!

Andrea said...

It is so true!! The other day my cell phone died, after the 100th time of me dropping it out of my purse. I had a few minutes of panic and then relized it was Saturday night and I couldn't get a new phone until Monday. I felt all flustered and "disconnected". I took my phone in hopes it could be fixed, but it could not. And the tech guy couldn't get the phone numbers off of my old phone either. So, I again felt lost. I do not know anyone's phone numbers, they are all programed into my phone. I then relized I am a bit nuts. I now am using a year 2000 model of cell phone that pretty much just rings when someone calls. Nothing fancy and it has humbled me. I agree with your post!! It's all just too true. We all just need to slow down, stop and smell the roses!
That is a beautiful sunset!! Well, now that I have written a novel!! Great post!!

Ranch wife said...

Hi, Erin, I linked to your blog from my daughters blog, you had left a comment. Just wanted to say, I loved your post, and your pictures. I will be stopping by again.
God Bless
Ranch Wife

Beth from the Funny Farm said...

I can remember phone party lines too! And I was raised without a TV and it just BUGS me now-a-days how much my kids want to watch it. I fantasize about cutting off the extension cord.

Mike and Julia said...

Hello - we are a family of three in England, UK. We have been following your blog and we are fascinated with your ideas. We live in the country, at the edge of a town. Our house has a large garden and we have three dogs, some chickens and a cat who rules the whole gang! We'd like to keep in contact with you and hope you will continue.

Blog Directory - Blogged