They Call it Progress

There are some days when I feel as if life is just too hard. It's the accumulation of little things, mostly, like the fact that I just ordered a roll of 100 stamps and they were 37 cent stamps instead of 39 cent stamps, so I had to buy 100 2 cent stamps in order to make them work. Why is the post office still selling 13 designs of 37 cent stamps and only one design of 39 cent stamps?

Why do I have to go to six drugstores (and thank God there is at least one on every corner) before I can find my contact lens solution? And why do I have to go to Farmer Jack in order to get the brand of chicken I like, Kroger's for pork chops and milk, Your Better Market for the Hamilton Brand all natural brown eggs, and Westborn Fruit Market for decent romaine lettuce?

Why is it that our prescription drug insurance now charges us double what it used to charge us, so that every time I get bronchitis or a sinus infection, it costs me $100 for two prescriptions for 10 days? And, I have to pay more each month just for the privelege of having this insurance in the first place?

Why is it that it cost almost $300 to keep my house sort of warm last month, and that my elderly mother is now waking up feeling cold in the middle of the night because she had to "dial down" in order to save money?

Sigh. All these things, and many more, make life in the 21st century seem awfully hard. Physically, I know there's no comparison with life in the 18th or 19th or even parts of the 20th century. We still have hot and cold running water at the touch of a faucet, warm (or cold) air pulsing through our houses, offices, and cars at the push of a button, any kind of electronic or printed entertainment we could ask for at our immediate disposal. Why is it that it sometimes all seems so hard?

I guess the hardships of every generation are relative. Because we have so much more in the first place, there is so much more asked of us. Our resources become stretched to the limit, and we must pay the price literally and figuratively.

There is something in me that so often longs for a simplicity of life that I fear has gone forever. The small town, with the corner store and the bank/post office/police station combined in one. The neighborhood cafe where the regulars favorites are well known to the gum chewing, white haired waitress, whose husband is the lovable grouch at the grill. The town doc, who has delivered at least two generations of babies, and ushered one of those generations to the shaded cemetary on the hill. Am I dreaming? Did such a life every exist in America?

I was born in the 50's, and have often felt as if I were at least a generation too late. Now, as I stand on the threshold of old (er) age, I look forward with trepidation to the decades ahead. Can we survive if we keep escalating this pace of "progress"? Perhaps it would behoove us all to step on the brakes, and look backward for a moment, to see what lessons of life the past has to teach us.