The weather around here for the Ides of March today was off-the-charts gorgeous. Sunny, upper 70s, warm and comfortable. An unbelievable blessing. So we decided as a family it was time for Dad to fire up the grill and cook some burgers.
With the summer outdoor furniture still in storage, a lone patio chair became my home base. While the burgers began sizzling, I pulled out my iPhone and called up one of my all-time favorite movies, “Moonstruck,” with Cher and Nicolas Cage, back when Nicolas Cage was still an actual actor appearing in actual films.
Sitting out there, chuckling and enjoying the story, checking on the food every few minutes, a thought came to mind that set me back for a few seconds: If my grandparents were alive today, they would not believe what I’m able to do. Heck, when I was kid, it would have blown my mind, too.
The fact that I could instantly watch a movie of my choosing and completely under my control, with a crystal clear picture and sound, on a device held in my hand? Even George Jetson would be impressed with that. Yet we take such things for granted anymore.
Growing up, once a favorite movie had ended its run in the local theater – with a single screen; no multiplexes back then – the best you could hope for, if you wanted to see it again, was to wait for it to appear on the “Rege Cordic Sunday Afternoon Movie,” or during some obscure late-night programming slot on one of the three channels available. Sure, Disney might roll one of its animated classics around into theaters every seven or eight years, and we were grateful for that, but versus the immediate gratification of songs, movies, and TV shows on iTunes?
Pshaw. No contest, Bub.
But here’s my point, beyond the nostalgic notions presented here. I believe having to wait for things made us better people. It taught patience, tolerance, and true appreciation for those special treats. When you happened to unexpectedly catch a favorite film on a sleepy Sunday afternoon on TV, the discovery became all the sweeter. You could really savor the experience, because you knew it wouldn’t come around again for quite a while.
Those lessons spilled into adulthood, too. The old chestnut says, “Anything worth having is worth waiting for,” and that eternal lesson got proven over and over. Long nights in the college library, deciphering the Dewey decimal system, locating armfuls of books, reading and reading and reading to find passages supporting your thesis. Searching for that first job out of college, sending resumes, waiting for replies, sweating through interviews. On the job, still learning, working hard and hoping for that cherished 3% raise. And in a hundred other instances where waiting simply came with the territory.
But what happens today? College students, who can’t find information in five seconds using Google or Yahoo search engines, simply e-mail their librarian, who finds and e-mails the info back to them. That’s when the librarian isn’t locating the actual books and having them delivered to the student’s dorm room, mind you.
No wonder that when young people today actually land a job, they’re dumbfounded, offended, and insulted that things don’t happen lickety-split at their command. That yes, Virginia, you do have to wait for things. You can’t be texting in front of customers. You do need to actually speak to other humans, whether by phone or – horrors! – in person.
I’ve seen articles stating that the pendulum has swung as far as it’s going to go regarding acceptance of instant-access electronics as the norm for personal interaction, and that we’re trending back toward more person-to-person communication. I sure hope so.
It may take a little longer to truly connect with another person. It might be a little sloppy sometimes, even. But just like stumbling onto a great movie after the 11 o’clock news, man, is it worth it.
Copyright 2012 Transverse Park Productions, LLC