There are moments where I hear my heartbeat and swear it is like the a giant clock, tick-tocking the days of my life away.
A pair of noise cancelling headphones rest upon my ears to help me focus upon the important tasks and not upon the screams of children or leaf blowers that roar outside my door and window.
The Who is asking me to Join Together With the Band but I am thinking about days long gone when the guys and I would sit poolside singing this and other songs while drinking beers as we watched girls in bikinis look for the best places to tan.
Those were heady days of college when it really felt like summer was endless and the opportunities life provided didn’t come with the same challenges and restrictions a father more than twenty years out of school stares at.
The kid I was could wander onto a packed floor at the fraternity house and pretend to have enough rhythm to move with whatever music was playing. If he wasn’t in class or sitting with the guys you might have found him studying, a pair of headphones on his ears, walkman at his side.
He didn’t have the luxury of loading 10,000 songs on his phone or his MP3 player so he did his best to fill two sides of a cassette tape with songs that were appropriate for whatever situation he found himself in.
Today we smile and laugh at the memories and talk about the present as it leads into the future.
The recently married on their way to being divorced men talk about how they never had to worry about accidentally butt dialing a girl or wondering if the text they sent was stupid.
I look at them and ask if they think it was easier to date then or now and a wave of contradictory responses fly my way.
Is Technology Your Master?
The kids are sitting on the couch trying not to look like I am boring them. I tell them the answer to the question should be no, always no but they push back and ask me to defend my habits.
I have two laptops, a cellphone, a tablet, some iPods and two digital cameras plus an assortment of other odds and ends. I gave the old laptop to the children and I use the other for my stuff.
So even though that picture isn’t of my gear I could probably produce something similar. But what I have has been acquired over time and because I take care of my stuff it mostly lasts, mostly being the operative word.
Planned obsolescence, shoddy construction and the occasional accident have helped to motivate new purchases as has personal desire. But if push comes to shove you’d find very little was purchased before the need was great because the cash flow was small.
But there are huge differences between the childhood my children are experiencing and that I had. Mine was analog while they are in the midst of a digital age.
They don’t know what a busy signal is and I don’t know if they recognize the call waiting beep. Dial tones, cords and cables are things they don’t think of just as it doesn’t occur to them that from first grade until I graduated high school I walked to school. Ok, correction, my senior year I got a car and started driving then, but you get the point.
We grew up during the days of mothers kicking us out and forbidding entry until darkness fell and roamed anywhere and everywhere our feet or bikes could take us.
Now I tell them it is time to turn off the Kindle, the phone the Wii or whatever device they are using because sunshine is best felt on our backs and not through windows or pictures.
My Face Is Up/Down Here
We walk into the pub and grab a table. The girls have thrown on a pair of shorts and tops and are joining us for a pitcher of beer.
A game is on the television and we are trying to talk and watch. In the midst of distraction some of us are told by the women where our eyes should be focused.
Sheepish grins roll across our faces and we make eye contact. This is a pivotal moment for some of the people at the table. In a few hours they’ll find time for each other and no one else.
Morning will come and they’ll walk out of an apartment and head back to theirs and two people will wonder when they should call. One of the guys will be screamed at because she doesn’t know her roommate is on the phone for hours and that the guy tried to call but was unable to get through.
Decades later they laugh about it and we hear her tell the story again about how angry she was that he didn’t have the decency Â to walk her home nor call her.
The Temptations are singingÂ (I Know) I’m Losing You and I am thinking about how much has changed in all of our worlds. Certain experiences for the children are no different than they were for us and yet some are downright foreign to me.
iTunes moves to I’m A Man by The Spencer Davis Group and I am back in my Camaro. It is a ’77 with steel bumpers and wheels made to exceed the speed limit.
This was on a couple of the cassettes and any time it started to play my foot grew heavier.
I close my eyes and wonder if I can turn back time if I put the pedal all the way down on our Honda Odyssey. The thought makes me smile but the truth is I don’t miss much from those days.
Somewhere inside my head there is a 21 year-old kid screaming at me to wake up and remember endless summers and opportunities that stretched out farther than the eye could see.
He thinks I am blind and old but what he doesn’t know is that I can see clearly that some of those exits on the endless roads didn’t lead where he thought they would. I see the pot holes and wrecks of other vehicles.
But that doesn’t mean I am unwilling to take those roads now, I am just more careful than I once was. Got too many responsibilities and the recovery time isn’t what it was when I was 21.
I love tech, but it is not my master. I much prefer to experience things in person than through digital means.
What about you?