Thursday, July 9, 2015

Passing the Time or Time Passing By?

A few weeks ago, when going through some hand-me-down craft supplies, I happened to end up with a copy of Woman's Day from July 1975.

It was so fascinating to hold a time capsule into, well, a woman's day 40 years ago.

And on some accounts, those days were just like mine - cooking (although I'm apparently lacking in the jello salad department), decorating (there were some sweet tips for "Furnishing the Multipurpose Room"), budgeting / dealing with stress / trying to find a flattering hair style.

And on other accounts, it was another reminder of how much our society has changed in a relatively short period of time.  The ads made me chuckle.  Cigarette advertising was prevalent, without so much as a blink about it being an unhealthy habit.  And there were sad reminders of what we've lost - the baseline assumptions about the sanctity of marriage in the heart-warming reflection by one young wife would be laughed off the page in today's hook-up culture.

But by far the biggest shocker was the first article touted on the front cover: "PRETTY SUMMER FASHIONS" ...not surprising, but keep reading... "To Knit, Crochet, and Sew."

There were pages of pages of projects - to knit, crochet, and sew - and we're not talking a 15 minute glue-gun craft that might grace a page of a modern magazine.  They're presenting full-length crochet swim cover-ups, the kind of project you or I may think of starting now in hopes of being done by next summer.  Or perhaps the one after that.

Apparently, in 1975, magazine publishers could assume that the average woman could knit, crochet, or sew AND that she had time to do so.

Historically, people have had "pastimes" - you know, activities like crafts and jigsaw puzzles and sitting around singing hymns - because they literally needed to pass the time.  To our ears, so overwhelmed by the cacophony of modern life, the idea that someone could need to save themselves from staring at the walls evening after evening is crazy.  After all, we can't even find time to look at the walls or notice and evict the family of spiders who have claimed the corner real-estate.  The thought of staring at the wall for 30 seconds sounds luxurious, and a whole quiet evening laughably unattainable.

In a society where "checking email quick" is code for "see you in 30 minutes when I return from this Facebook rabbit hole," we never have to pass the time.  It's passing us.  How many days have you looked up from your phone or computer or TV to see the clock and be shocked by the minutes and - be honest, hours - that have slipped right by?  How many evenings have your to-dos sat undone and your pastimes left untouched?

It's a delicate balance beam we walk in this brave new world of technology.  So many connections, benefits, and useful pieces of information, but at what cost?  Our busy, connected, informed lives whiz right by without any time to sit and enjoy, or to recharge.

So tonight, my (ironic Internet) soapbox is to ask each of you: are you passing your time or is it passing you by?  And, is that how you want to live your life?

Simplify.  Disconnect.  Live intentionally and purposefully.


To this end, Justin and I are really excited about our adventure in the new house - we're intentionally delaying our Internet installation.  We don't have a set time to sign-up.  It can't be too long, or the grandmothers will revolt for re-institution of Skype dates, but we're going to have some blissfully quiet and undistracted evenings.  I suspect we'll need to pass the time (ha, with unpacking boxes, probably), and I look forward to the board games and chats on the back porch and the projects I find in hand to fill those evenings.

More importantly than those weeks of forced disconnect, I'm excited about the new habits we'll form, hopefully habits that will last once we're reconnected.  I've recently been reading Gretchen Rubin's "Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives" and was very convinced of the idea that this move (or any other change, like a new job, etc) can be a starting point for new habits.  This forced removal of the temptation to be constantly online isn't the only thing I'll be tackling - we've made a point already (amidst boxes galore) to focus on some of the things that need to be in place to contribute to the simple and functional home of our dreams (for example, we're training Anna (and ourselves!) to always put everything back in its place as soon as we're done using it).

And, don't you worry, I can still blog without Internet at home.  Our house is a short walk to Justin's (well-wired!) campus, and I have daydreams of slipping out to the coffee shop here and there to catch up on a little blogging.  As always, stay tuned :)

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