So as I paid another bill that had come in the mail this evening, I was fondly reminded of how a few months back I was instant messaging with a friend and mentioned that I had just come back from the store, where I had purchased stamps.
“You still use stamps?” he responded. “How quaint.”
It’s true, I still use stamps. And I divulge this information for all the world —-or my one reader—- to judge. It’s not that I am opposed to saving the earth by reducing my use of paper products —- I happen to love trees, ever since, while teaching summer school this past summer, I
learned about taught students about photosynthesis and discovered informed the students that after absorbing sunlight, trees give off oxygen. Since until our species advances we need oxygen to breathe, I am a fan of reducing my use of paper products.
Yet my transition to online bill payment has been even more gradual than our species’ advances toward breathing without oxygen (I thought I saw somebody sprouting gills the other day, but it was just a typical Portland hairdo). This procrastination puzzles me, in stark contrast with my mother, who has not only been paying bills online for years, but also proficiently programming and using her GPS and expertly adding apps to her iPhone. How is it possible that my mother, who never learned to program a VCR or even turn on a CD player, skipped the technological advances of the 80s and 90s yet somehow landed in 2012 with the incredible ability to master the iPhone?
Don’t get me wrong, there are reasons I prefer mapquesting directions to using my GPS. There is sound logic supporting my decision to say I can’t find my GPS when I know perfectly well it is in the lefthand compartment of the third drawer of the table in the living room, the drawer labeled: Gadgets From the Future. For starters, it is fun to arrive at a destination, only to discover that I’ve got neither the navigational skills nor the visual-spatial memory capacity to return to my starting point. Very fun indeed. Moreover, I’ve now sampled every voice option GPS has to offer me; female American accent, male and female British accent, Southern twang, Irish riverdancer, Richard Simmons, and Klingon warrior —- and no matter who the navigator, I simply don’t care to be bossed around by a small box with an attitude about the number of wrong turns I’ve made when I’ve been given ample reminders about that upcoming turn, none of which I heard because I was listening to that one song on the radio while mentally creating my grocery list and eyeing that Ford Escort to my right who keeps crossing into my lane and wondering if I should try to make that 5:30pm Zumba class or just skip it and eat the ice cream I’ll be buying at the grocery store once I mentally complete my grocery list and WHY IS THAT LITTLE BOX YELLING AT ME AGAIN??
So as you can see, there is obviously something wrong with people who use GPS, in that they’re not thinking about enough important stuff. Yet there’s also obviously something wrong with me, in that change makes me quite nervous. Not the coin kind of change, I love finding a penny on the ground and I love that feeling I get when I’ve found four hundred and twenty-five pennies on the ground and can order my favorite iced mocha, but the kind of change that reminds you of the sheer impermanence of the world as the things in it are ever in flux. I remember refusing to add texts to my first flip phone, adamant that the phone was intended purely for talking, and that I was taking a stand that would eventually influence the entire world toward resolutely rejecting the practice of pushing buttons on a phone as if confusing the buttons with teeny tiny keys on a teenier tinier keyboard attached to the world’s smallest computer (ironic considering phones are now small computers). I remained steadfast until my very adamance became the source of my dwindling social world; nobody knew that I was changing the world by blocking texts on my phone and instead assumed I was willfully ignoring their text invites to fun events. Upon discovering that my failure to add texting capability to my phone was compromising my access to social events, I called and ordered texts the next day. And it was a favorable change, despite the fact that my big thumbs continue to hit multiple keys upon impact.
Change can be scary, but not as scary as the voice of a Klingon warrier ordering you to take the next left, and just a bit scarier than the voice of Richard Simmons cheering you on toward the following exit while you pump, pump, pump that steering wheel! And it’s okay to hesitate before making changes —- if everybody were to move at the pace of the world, nobody would slow down enough to set an individual pace. If we move at our own speed, we’ll average a just-right pace as we embrace the transience of the world in which we live. The speed of light is as fast as it gets, but I’m content to travel at less than warp speed, and choose my changes carefully.
But I will always buy stamps and I’ll always send handwritten thank-you notes as long as there are mail carriers or at least carrier pigeons —- because some things never change, and shouldn’t.