“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
—C.S. Lewis, British writer and lay theologian.
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I’ve been told I’m getting old, but I refuse to accept that somewhat opinionated viewpoint. It’s my personal observation I’ve simply accumulated a lot of experience.
Lately however it’s becoming apparent just how much “experience” I really do have. That revelation came last week while performing the traditional “old year-out and new year-in” reflections routine one more time.
Reading a collection of clippings and the bounty of bound volumes in the newspaper library still trying to assemble something into a book gave me cause to smile. To borrow from perhaps the most well-known advertising slogan in history, “We’ve come a long way baby.”
Along with noticing how far my column writing style has come, the experiences I’ve written about offer their own perspective. For instance, reading one recently that I wrote in 1981 clearly noted the changes in both. Ironically, that piece also began as a reflection on being told that I was getting old.
“Imagine if you will,” it began, “a day in the life of modern man living in the United States.”
“It starts with his subtle awakening to soft music, noting the time in a liquid crystal display, and comes with a feature that allows him the privilege of intermittent lapses back into the sleep state by simply pushing a button.
“As that awakening process begins in the bedroom, an automatic coffee pot in the kitchen with its own timer brews fresh java that is ready before he ever sets foot on the floor.
“After our modern man eats breakfast cooked in seconds in a non-heat-producing oven called a microwave, he heads off to work in a diesel-powered automobile equipped with a “cruise control” that maintains a constant speed without effort. That same vehicle has an onboard computer informing him of his average speed, fuel consumption, and trip duration.
“Once in the office, he makes calls on his desk phone that automatically stores numbers in memory for future use. That same modern telephone takes messages when he cannot answer it and has a button that allows him to speak into the phone without a long cord for holding the handset to be heard from anywhere in the room.
“During the course of a day, he has at his disposal a calculator that will not only add and subtract but also divide and multiply as well. And it fits into a shirt pocket along with a tiny tape recorder for documenting conversations.
“He travels by flying in jet-powered aircraft capable of navigating through any type of weather with the aid of computerized guidance systems using nothing more than needles on the instrument panel.
“While flying, he can read a newspaper produced and printed via photographic processes while the recording device on his television at home will automatically record any of his favorite shows he might be missing.
“Most remarkable is that all the technology described above has been invented in the last 15 years, most of it in 10. We can’t help but wonder what impact the next ten years and beyond will have on our lives.”
If 1981 could only see how far we have come in 2021. Computers that were new in 1981 control every aspect of our lives today, whether we want them to or not. Virtually every necessity and convenience in life is reduced to a single device smaller than the pack of trendy cigarettes the advertising slogan mentioned earlier promoted decades ago.
With those personal reflections, I wish all a happy and prosperous New Year as we await the unveiling of what 2022 has in store. Let’s resolve to set new goals. Accumulate new experiences. Start the new year with optimism. I’ll go first and say that 40 years from now, I’m hoping those comments about my getting old have changed to, “Wow, doesn’t he look good for his age.”
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