Writing a love letter used to mean something. The effort alone in gathering the supplies: paper, a quill, fountain ink. The actual process of writing was a task of monstrous proportions; it could take a day to write a 250-word letter. Have you ever tried to write with a quill? Dip, write half a letter, dip, write the other half a letter, dip, cross your t, dip, dot your i, you get the drift. Then you had to worry about someone getting the letter to your loved one across the sea by boat. It could take months, if ever, for your profession of love to reach your beloved.
Sending a letter through the mail, written by pen and paper, for the price of a few cents seemed like modern technology to the exponential degree. But we’re humans and we’re not happy unless we go to the moon. So welcome email. The email offered unlimited free characters; feel free to type anything of any length and send it instantly to another human being in the world. We were in the future!
But it was too much pressure. Too much typing. Clearly there was a faster way to communicate. Why write a long email when instead, in 160-characters, I can send you a text message from my phone, a device I will carry with me like a prison tracking device, GPS included. Now we can express our love like glorified telegrams.
Why stop there? Who needs 160-characters when really all we want to say is, “I Love You,” and, of course, we’re all privy to the international symbol, <3. Why type 3 words when you can send an emoticon? Why write someone a supportive card when you can click a smiley icon with hearts over their eyes? Modern day communications seem to have come almost full circle from where we started. We’ve reverted to interacting with one another through these little icons, the 2016 version of cave drawings and the internet is our cave.
In the Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the paralyzed hero wrote an entire book by blinking his one working eye, but our generation can’t commit to more than emoticons? Have we come too far? Couldn’t we have stopped at the email? Bravo, humanity for going to the moon and then deciding it’s better to stay in our backyard.
This is technology and communication, but it goes beyond communication. Our baby boomer parents went too fast, ate too rich, and suffered heart attacks. But they worked hard; they were entitled to the fatty steak and whiskey sour after golf at the country club. Enter the evil age of pharmaceuticals, where we have a drug for every bad habit. High blood pressure, clogged arteries, flaccid penis? We’ve got a pill to fix it all – and a pill to deal with the effects of taking too many pills.
Our generation looks for the wrongs of our parents and now we try to adjust, adapt, prevent. We eat more greens, fewer cans of shit, more homemade, less processed; basically, going back to where we began.
What happened to the age of Pillars of the Earth when we ate a hunk of bread, an onion like it was an apple and drank beer (mead) for nutrition? Armed with this sustenance, humans built the churches of Europe which have long outlasted things built in modern times.
I’ve often thought life comes back around to teach me lessons I didn’t learn the first time around. But the older I get, the more I realize life has no choice but to come back around. The earth is round; we orbit around the sun in a circle, and it causes everything in the universe to continue to move in a circular direction. We’re floating in a circle of circles, but as humans we tend to see things on a linear scale and if we perceive our life as going in a circle, we interpret this movement as backward. Essentially, though, we’re just following a circle and getting another chance; a free do-over.
When I married my first husband 16 years ago, we lived and conceived our son on 27th Street in Manhattan. After our divorce, I couldn’t have imagined my next boyfriend (eventual husband) would live on the same exact block, nor would I ever envision our daughter would also be conceived on the same exact block (different sperm) 8 years later? What about those particular geographic coordinates made me so fertile?
Sometimes life sends you in a circle geographically; I bet you never imagined you’d be moving in five minutes from your parents again! Sometimes life sends you in a circle with your career; I bet you never thought you’d wait tables again. How about your health? Your body is the perpetual reminder how life is an ultimate circle of humanity. We all end up starting and ending the same way; with a breath. It’s in between those first and last breaths, where we rotate around our axis, dizzy with the same choices, searching for true north, or a better outcome, this time around.