Today, just for a few minutes, I'd like you to stop what you are doing and think about how convenient everything is today. Your life is SO easy compared to, say, the pioneer woman's life. Take bread, for instance. This morning I wanted a pastry from the coffee shop. But, being too lazy to get in my gasoline-powered vehicle and DRIVE to the coffee shop (a walk that takes about 45 minutes, mind you), I decided to create my own pastry. I pulled a tube of crescent rolls out of the fridge to begin. Now, think. Who ever would have thought that one day we'd have perforated bread in a tube? Seriously? I filled the pre-formed triangles with chocolate and butterscotch chips. Think again - chips? Sweet treats already pre-formed into little drops? Can you believe there was a time when chocolate was a rarity, if one ever even had the pleasure of enjoying it? I mean, if your father wasn't a chocolatier in France, or your ancestors weren't the ancient Mayans, you might never have tasted chocolate once upon a time. GASP!
You probably took a nice, hot shower this morning. Besides the miracle of hot water being delivered into your home through an intricate series of pipes, you likely used another amazing product - body wash. Think of it, not too many years ago, one had to actually use a bar of SOAP to get clean. Now, we indulge in creamy, anti-aging, exotic-scented liquid body wash squirted directly from a plastic bottle onto a nylon pouf, and create bubbles upon bubbles. Did you know that soap used to be made using lye and rendered fat? No? Well I knew this because my husband, The Renaissance Man, recently made his own soap using rendered fat (yes, the icky stuff we pour off taco meat) and lye, which came in a bottle with a complicated chemical name that I'm not even going to try to spell. And, once you introduce this chemical process, the fat is no longer fat and the lye is no longer lye because it's gone through a process called saponification (or something like that) and it is now, officially, soap. See? It was so easy for YOU to just open a bottle of Caress body wash.
Today, everything is fast. We have smart phones and computers and iPads that deliver information in an instant. Except when there's a glitch and it takes four nanoseconds loner than normal. Then, we get all mad. We say things like "stupid computer" and "not so smart now, are we phone?". Or maybe that's just me. But the point is, we expect EVERYTHING in an instant. We microwave our food. When was the last time you stood and stirred something for 45 minutes? I haven't made a delicious pot-pie recipe in years because it requires 45 minutes of constant stirring the sauce, and who's going to just STAND there for 45 minutes stirring sauce. I mean, maybe if you were listening to a book on your iPod or watching a show on your under-the-cabinet-installed TV with cable in your kitchen. But to just STAND there and COOK? WTF?
Once upon a time families gathered around a wood-encased radio to listen to their "programs". Then, we got big, ol' black and white TVs that weighed about three tons and had "rabbit ears" to adjust the clarity. Now, we have flat-screen TVs mounted to our walls and if we don't have time to watch a show, we can just DVR it for later, AND skip the commercials. Personally, I don't have a DVR. If I miss a show, too bad for me. Lucky for me, if I really want to see something I miss, I can also watch it "on demand" or on the internet. Instant gratification. All the time.
The other day one of my kids said they were hungry. I said "make some macaroni and cheese or Top Ramen". They looked at me like I had two heads and said "But that takes SO LONG!" If it's not a Hot Pocket or frozen burrito that can be heated up in under two minutes, they're not interested. I will add here that boiling water takes about five minutes. Top Ramen can be made in about seven minutes and macaroni and cheese in about ten. But that takes TOO LONG!
When I was in school, if our pencil became dull, we had to place it into a manual sharpener and crank the handle to get a nice, sharp point. I always wanted a pencil sharpener at home. I thought that would be the ultimate luxury, because there was nothing quite so gratifying as a freshly sharpened pencil (disclaimer: I spent most of my childhood drawing....hours on end....I'm pretty sure my family thought I was autistic. But that's another story.) We never had a pencil sharpener at home, but now, in my own home, I have an electric pencil sharpener that I just stick a pencil into and it emerges all pointy and sharp. The worst part is the two or three seconds that you have to WAIT while it sharpens. I'm not embarrassed to admit that the other day I bought a hand-held pencil sharpener and sharpened about 200 colored pencils by hand. It was very gratifying.
Once upon a time mothers spent their time taking care of their own children. Then, came the age of working mothers and a mother had to carefully consider her child-care options, interviewing countless nannies or touring several daycare centers in order to make the decision that would be the right fit for the family. Now, we have daycare in the grocery store and "drop in playcare" where moms can just check their kids in like a shirt to the laundry and go off to pursue their own interests while perfect strangers attend to their most treasured offspring. How convenient is that?
We are the Convenience Age, no matter what other monikers society has given this generation. Instead of inviting a friend over for coffee that we make in our own kitchens, we have a coffee stand on every corner, and we drive with our paper coffee cups bobbling in our laps, slurping down our caffeine on the way to work or the doctor or to pick the kids up from soccer. We have instant oatmeal and drive-through prescription pick up. We are moving at the speed of light. So, I challenge you, this weekend, to do ONE thing "the slow way". Get up and change the channel. Simmer a soup slowly on the stove top. Hand-sew the hole in that shirt you've been meaning to get to for ages. Play a board game. Or hey, if you're really ambitious, make your own soap using rendered fat and lye. Whatever. Just do something slow. This instant!