Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It has long (recently) been my contention that with all these new-fangled ways of being in "touch" (cell phones, internet, texting, skyping, etc. etc) we are more out of touch than ever. Technology has offered us little more than more ways to avoid each other. Since the dawn of the answering machine, and then forward to beepers and the sincere hope that the person we were trying to "reach" would not actually pick up, we have perfected the art of not actually having to, nor wanting to, talk. Ever.
I've noticed, too, that when I walk along the street many people who are not actually carrying bags in both hands will, more often than not, be talking on the phone. I know that I've been compelled on more than one occasion to call someone while I was walking from one place to another just to have something to do and, also, because, tragically, we don't seem to be able to find the time during our busy days to simply sit down and converse.
One of the things I believe to be happening, as well, is that we are becoming less and less comfortable with just - well - walking down the street. I would liken it to the same kind of discomfort that one might feel walking in to a room filled with strangers.
I read a story recently, as I was riding the subway to work, by Sylvia Boorstein. It was about her grandfather and a man named Mr. Cory. Mr. Cory was a farmer who lived down the road from Sylvia's family when she was growing up. Mr. Cory and his wife of seventy years did all the work on their several acre farm and then sold the produce out of their garage. Sylvia recalled a day when she was driving over to the Cory's to pick up some produce. As she neared the garage she thought she was looking at a statue of Mr. Cory when it was, in fact, Mr. Cory himself. She writes, "...he wasn't reading or writing or sorting produce or whittling or doing anything but waiting."
Then she tells a story about her grandfather who, when he was well in to his nineties, was living in Florida in a community for elderly folks. Sylvia went to visit him and was invited to join him, after breakfast and again after lunch, for a walk around the block. "He explained to me that this was his regular regimen, his daily exercise. I said to him, "What do you think about when you walk?" He looked at me with surprise. "What do you mean, what do I think about?" he asked. "When I walk, I walk!"