The Things You Used To Do
This may sound like a love story, but maybe it is not.
On a welcomed weekend, can you recall what your routine was many years ago? We change our life, career and social status as we go through the phases of growing up, building a career and enhancing a network of family and close mates. Such changes have been wrought because of our own reckoning, imposed on us and gradually as a result of world wide or local trends.
Do you still tend a garden? Many Millennials live in bricked up, artificial spaces high up above the local street. The greenery around more often than not belongs to Council, the body corporate or a neighbour. The twenty somethings thrive on minimalising possessions even before the Marie Kondo lessons, keeping themselves nimble for travel, transfer to another country or to elope with the love of their lives on a moment's notice.
Oh yes, what about the sports and activity routine? For parents with young kids, it is de rigour on a Saturday morning to join the traffic bottle neck, watch other cars loaded with sports enthusiastic passengers and to continually manage the time schedule. Do you still look forward to putting up your legs on the sofa by evening of the day?
I put my bet that a contemporary life for most of us is to check the smart phone apps and social media buzz, not just on a lazy weekend, but whenever we can. No more feeling the rustle of newspapers as we browse through what the media says with a cuppa. The cuppa is still there, but now more likely with a barista made thing at a hipster cafe. The throw of newspapers on to your front door is disappearing in most suburbs.
The drive to other suburbs is now littered with more vehicles, competition for parking and the greater chance to encounter unsettling drivers. The nearest main road in my neighbourhood used to be a pleasure to pass by, now it is chock a block at major junctions with vehicles as if it is rush hour to work on a weekend. Yet the parks remain well kept and green, an opportunity to relive past strolls with loved ones or to continue to smell the grass and roses with them.
When you used to open on to an electronic screen, I take it that it was television. Yes, TV is still alive but the buzz word is now streaming to consumers, albeit with still passive viewing habits.
The future is moving on fast, especially in South Korea with 5G enabled streaming of on line real time and inter active gaming on screens. You Tube has challenged production of content and is more accessible as long as you are willing to pay for Wi-Fi (or have good reliable Wi-Fi).
People rarely get the experience of watching some fascinating programme together. More likely viewing good content has become a personal and lonely experience, watching on the go, whenever there is spare time commuting, waiting for something at home, or when unexpectedly getting stuck somewhere away from home. It is only a memory when family and friends watched something terrific on screen physically assembled together, unless it is back to the cinema hall.
And oh yes, there are several screens in our daily routine these days. Tablets, smart phones, giant digital versions, desktops, laptops and the so called Tv screen.
Pets have always been a traditional bonus of home life. Do you still take the doggie to walks twice a day, to heighten their spirit with new smells, to increase the pleasure of exercise and to give more opportunity to encounter the new? City dwellers have smaller pets to correspond with their smaller apartments, but they can be so flashy busy as well to find time to just walk the dog.
Do you still connect with your neighbours? Or some of them do not want even to have anything to do with you. In Australian suburbs,a walk down the hood still confronts us to darkened fronts of houses, as opposed to the frolic and bright buzz in other countries and cultures. Is there anyone really occupying dark units in fast tracked high rise units? Residents still tend to huddle at the back of Australian dwellings and this has not changed at all.
So the family gathers in rumpus rooms near the kitchen, but the variety of cooking ingredients has definitely widened to a comfortable extent. The availability of so called exotic things to buy in Australian cities would astound many baby boomers, but we all take it in our stride. Concepts and methods of preparation for culinary cooking have also changed. We now have more easy access to smashed avocado, freshly made gnocchi, Baklava, Asian styled roasts, freshly prepared Rogan Josh, Brazilian grills, Granola breakfasts, gratifying coffee blends, tapas and Chinese hot pots, as if they have always been part of the Australian landscape.
On a not so positive front, there are more processed foods, opioid and other manufactured prescriptions, increased gambling options, use of more chemicals and more stuff for which we as consumers are not told the whole story when regularly using them.
Society seems to have suffered a lowering of trust and conviction levels, across many fronts like news, medical advice, matters involving politics, messages from commercial advertisements and promises from providers. A higher level of cynicism has corresponded with inflation in the cost of daily living. Each of us increasingly deals with software, robotics, artificial intelligence and the whole cohort of impersonal communication to get things done.
We text more with our fingers than exercise our vocal chords.
We get engrossed more with ourselves rather than sharpen our skills and instincts to interact face to face with others.
Commuting using public transport may feel the same in between rush hours, but not so otherwise in Australian capital cities. The growth of population has overwhelmed the capacity of infrastructural growth. Commuters seem to rise up more early to catch the express - and come home later. The niceties of civilised politeness goes down the more jam packed is the train cabin or bus spot.
Do you still say "Thank You" to your bus driver? Driverless trains introduced in Sydney now do not grant you to speak to any driver.
Air travel used to be one of elegance, privilege and civility.
Not so these days, after an explosion of growth in airlines and passengers in an industry that has made mobility and quickness the buzz words. More get to travel by such means, but there are also more risks and chances of getting mucked up at airports, face delays of aircraft and more tension in over crowded flights.
It looks like the more people we have in our community, we find ourselves speaking less to each other. We used to stimulate our brains and senses by working on craft with other people, but now we immerse ourselves with zips and dots of light, heat and analytics. We allow machines manage so called mundane chores but we have not found a full and satisfying range of what we can do ourselves. We want things delivered and fulfilled faster than ever - and forget to appreciate that the best things in life take time to nurture and grow.
So if you sense a rising helplessness of tension in your daily life, stop and think. What can you do to revive the pleasures you found yesterday? It takes a conscious effort to reflect and change - and not just join the race determined by commerce, technology and business alone.