Man, is it hard to change our habits… I don’t mean habits like smoking or gambling or drinking or worse. No, I’m talking about those little daily things we do. Where something goes, how a certain thing is supposed to be done, making sure things are done at the right time and in the right order. Those kinds of habits. And sometimes it gets to the point where it becomes a big deal if things don’t go as planned.
For instance, I had a friend one time who was trying to get used to a different living arrangement. He had been living alone for a handful of years and his girlfriend who had a small child had just moved in with him. He said it was something he wanted, but that before, “it was so nice to come home after work and just sit and watch some sports in front of the TV and eat my frozen dinner.”
But he did admit life was much more interesting now with a child in the house and he was well on his way to starting new habits.
My daughter Caroline’s 40th birthday is coming up Sunday, and when thinking of the last time she came to visit from San Antonio – the one in Texas – I understood what he was talking about. Not sitting alone in front of the TV eating a frozen dinner part, but the idea that although seeing my daughter was delightful, super-duper and in the parlance of my parent’s generation, the cat’s pajamas, I had to abandon my little habits and adopt new ones, like patiently waiting for another person to get out of the bathroom for one.
The giving up of my home routine for one week was like a mini-vacation even though I was still working (at home), and sort of gave me a chance to – in today’s parlance – reboot.
Trouble is when I go to reboot I sometimes end up with a mental blue screen of death.
Anyway, I enjoy spending live in-person time with my kids instead of over Skype or Facetime, those technologies that were once the purview of science fiction.
Speaking of which, a couple of weeks ago was the 165th birthday of scientist and engineer Nicola Tesla, who wrote in Popular Mechanics in 1909, “It will soon be possible to transmit wireless messages around the world so simply that any individual can carry and operate his own apparatus.” He knew what people wanted, apparently.
Anyway, the last time she came to visit was before the pandemic, and since her medical condition puts her in a high-risk category, it may be a good while before she flies.
Does anyone remember when you used to look forward to flying? In an aircraft, I mean, not in one of those occasional weird dreams. If I remember correctly, there was a time when security was nothing more than a metal detector at the gate; you breezed through while wearing your shoes and you could take your own food and water along.
Hemingway once said, “When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead,” but as I mentioned before, I wouldn’t include flying in the ‘things for fun’ category anymore.
I’m not really complaining (grumbling maybe) and try to take in stride the precautions taken in this crazy world of ours, but in a strange way, I envy the Z-generation people for whom it’s normal to go through airport security screenings in sock feet and get x-rayed and backscattered and the rest. They never experienced air travel any other way.
It may be hard for them to imagine, but there was a time when airlines were scrambling to get you to board one of their jets and offering all kinds of frills, including full meals instead of a complimentary bag of Gardetto’s or peanuts. I’m thinking of the first airline I flew on at 18 years old; Braniff, the hippy-est airline at the time, whose 707s were painted in psychedelic colors and staffed by stewardesses in mini-skirts and hot pants. They also had fairly roomy seats, even in coach, and served full meals. I guess most of those groovy 707s ended up on the scrap heap, along with those wide seats, smoking sections and rock ‘n roller flight attendants.
They say the only permanent thing is change, or put another way, “The way up and the way down are one and the same. Living and dead, waking and sleeping, young and old, are the same.”
By the way, besides my daughter’s birthday, this Sunday, July 25 is one of the lesser-known American holidays, National Parents Day. It was passed by Congress in 1994 establishing the fourth Sunday of July as a perennial day of commemoration.
Gifts are not required. Just hang out with ‘em is all, in one form or another.