Archive for Wednesday, January 3, 2001

Enjoying simple, not electrical

January 3, 2001

As another year comes and goes, I can't imagine what my grandparents are thinking. Do they pause during the day, puzzled by why a life's worth of learning doesn't prevent surprises? Does the ever-changing technology slow their steps? Do video games and cellular telephones silence them? Are they simply remembering a time when they played games without power cords and cranked their telephones before making a call?

I can't imagine what I'll say, 60 years from now, after a college education, job experience, countless mistakes and lessons learned. Will I be able to stay hip to the latest trends and inventions? Will I reminisce about a simpler time when you could watch a movie in your own home and make phone calls in the car and view the morning paper on a computer?

What will puzzle me in 60 years? What will my children want for their birthday? I am beginning to understand why my grandparents always gave me a sweater and some spending cash.

There is hope, however. There is a way in which I can (as my grandparents have) hold on to life's simple pleasures; the pleasures that never go out of style or run out of batteries.

On New Year's Day I was in my car, driving home from an afternoon of shopping. I was caught by surprise by the sunset. It was beautiful, like red wine spilled across the horizon. Before I was able to enjoy the view, I had to end a number of tasks, none of which included driving. I had to end a conversation and hang up my cell phone. I had to still the CD that spun inside my car stereo. Then I set my cruise control, to free up another limb for viewing this incredible work of nature. And there it was. Bold and radiant and sinking quickly, the sunset warmed me in ways unmatched by electricity.

I reveled in knowing that a sunset engaged me, a child of the Internet. I thought of settlers, sitting on their front porches, and realized why the western sky looked so promising. I thought of all the people who had enjoyed the same sunset, and past sunsets, and I was proud of myself for enjoying such a previously unassuming sight. I was so proud of the surfacing of my aesthetic side that I did the only thing I knew to do in an exciting situation. I grabbed my cellular phone and speed dialed everyone in my electronic address

book. I commanded that they stop playing Nintendo and surfing the 'net and go outside and look at the sunset.

As the sun retreated beneath the horizon I understood why feeding birds and taking walks and talking about the weather is so important to my grandparents. Even before the crank telephone, there was the sunset. And after "cellular" becomes an archaic buzzword, there will be the sunset.

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