Those of us born in the Boomer generation have seen more change in a decade than our ancestors did in a long life. The years of our generation encompass the development of technology that is truly astounding.
I’m shocked sometimes when I have to give my birthdate to some 20-something customer service rep or doctor’s office receptionist. How did it happen that some much time has passed? I remember, as a very small child, watching my grandfather’s television set with enraptured family members, and we were just watching the test pattern, waiting for Ed Sullivan to start.
In my teens I worked in a textile mill in the summer for $1.33 per hour. It was hot, grimy and dangerous work, but I loved the paycheck. I had no expenses except what I wanted to spend my $45 weekly take home pay. Then I realized, the other people working there had to support a family on about this much money. It helped shape my thinking about the world and made me realize getting an education was really important for me! Within a generation, almost all those jobs were shipped to Mexico and Pacific Rim.
In my 30’s, working in our family textile business, I got my first computer, an Apple IIe. With this amazing tool I could more accurately and quickly assess inventory status than ever before, but, of course, my brother-in-law and I had to write the simple software program that allowed us to do that. The 3 year old computer I use now has more capacity than a not-too-old mainframe of just a few years ago.
As a fledgling musician and music lover, the invention of stereo was like magic. It’s hard to believe nowadays that there was a time when monaural sound was the norm. I remember listening very carefully to the early demonstration albums of stereo capability, mezmerized as a train whistle moved from one place to another as if it were running right through my skull from one ear to another.
The pace of technological change continues to soar but the basic components of so much of it were invented and perfected within our own lifetime. I read once that the Sunday NYTimes contains more information than a man of 100 or so years ago encountered in a lifetime. Our children and grandchildren these days are born data ready. They are born into the understanding of what has gone before and it is they who will carry forward the push for innovation and newness.
“Plus ca change, plus c’est the meme chose” is how the French say “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Amidst the enormous change experienced in our lifetimes, the human spirit continues as it always has, seeking community, love, health, meaning and joy. While the pace of change is so fast that we often only see it in retrospect, we can choose to accept and grow with it, or we can fight it, shrivel and retreat from life.