I assure you, that title has nothing to do with me right now, nor does it have anything to do with the photo. But I'll get to that in a minute. It's a very stormy morning here as I write this. When I stepped outside earlier I was surprised at how warm it was. That's not a good sign here in the South. The warmth this close to winter tends to breed tornadoes but they say they don't see any popping up today. Just some strong, straight wind that tends to cull out any slightly less than healthy trees. That's okay. As long as it is not a softwood it'll be good firewood for me.
As I have been busy in the studio these past few days, I've thought a lot of what I wrote about last time. I wonder why things are so different than when I was a child. Now, I never have considered that I had an idyllic childhood, although it wasn't bad, but we always made a point to get together with family back then and we seemed to enjoy it. Honestly, I think. Or maybe that is just how I remember it but we had large gatherings with all our cousins and aunts and uncles. We had the holidays in the winter and family reunions for the summer. Huge affairs so much so that we constructed tables outside under the enormous, ancient canopy of oaks that stand between Mama's house and my grandmother's old house. It offered some relief from our heat. Or, if it wasn't that, we had Sunday afternoon. That was the day for visiting friends or them visiting us. We would all pile in the car and just take off and this was a common practise for everybody. Generally if you rode by someone's house you'd see them outside if they were home (and not out visiting someone else) because back then, people went outside and did stuff. Or they'd just be sittin' on the the porch drinking ice tea and relaxing. We'd stay and talk for a while, usually the kids playing in the yard and everybody enjoyed it. I remember I always enjoyed visiting my Aunt Minnie and Uncle Leonard from my Dad's side of the family. Leonard was Daddy's stepbrother. They had a very neat little farm house with a crystal clear, albeit shallow, creek that ran right alongside the driveway. I thought it was wonderful. Usually, if we went on Sunday, their son Sonny and his wife Sharon would be there too. They were two of those immensely irritating people that just smiled and laughed all time. They never seemed down. And Minnie and Leonard were kind people who would share the fruit from the trees in their back yard and anything else they had if you needed it. They've been gone for some time now and the last time I saw Sonny and Sharon was at my Daddy's funeral seven years ago. They were still smiling.
Of course, much of the reason that these things have faded into the past is simply logistics. Most of my family is dead. I have two uncles left and one aunt. The cousins are mostly all still there but they are spread all over. I have had several 'friend' me on Facebook but then they won't speak to me unless I ask them. I guess they just wanted to see if I was in prison yet. It seems to me that it is more than just not having stuff in common. It seems people's whole attitude has changed. I thought for a while that maybe my family began unraveling after my oldest brother decided to punch his own ticket but I'm not sure that's it. I don't believe we blame each other for that. Maybe our family just wasn't as close as we would have liked to believe. And actually, I do have several things in common with my siblings. My sister and I agree wholeheartedly on natural living and all that. They have chickens and raise a big garden and she makes lots of their stuff. In fact, Rosemary usually gives me several quarts of tomatoes she has canned each year because I haven't gotten that far yet. My brother and I both enjoy art and writing. He has published several books. Yet, they scoff at my refusal to take prescription drugs. They can't for the life of them seem to understand why I won't throw myself into a boatload of debt to finish this house all at once. When my BIL found out I don't shop at Wal-Mart he actually became incensed. I had never seen him get so mad. And of course, Rosemary is pissed that I am seeing Jack. Now, that is no indication of anything wrong with Jack. Rosemary generally despises anyone I date. She finds some flaw in virtually everyone so I just brush it off.
But all of that aside, it just seems that there is a pervading shadow of inconvenience when we get together. It's just all going through the motions and when everybody feels they have done the family thing for long enough we all take off for our respective houses. I wonder is it like that for others? Has technology and our society's attitude changed so much? You know, they have these stupid Wii things now where people can play tennis on TV, inside, instead of actually going outside and actually playing tennis. For real. We substitute a fake game for something that would be fairly easy to do for real. Has all our life become the same way? We email or text or post on Facebook and convince ourselves that we are 'keeping in touch', maintaining a real relationship with our loved ones but find it near to impossible to actually make time to go see them in the flesh. Has a plastic, simulated online persona become preferable to actually standing in front of the person? We peep at each other through the computer screen but shy away from actually seeing the person in the flesh. And people say, oh, we are so busy. I use that excuse myself. Busy doing what? When I was a child and in my region, people often had to raise a garden and animals to get by. It wasn't a fashionable thing or a social statement. Hell, they needed to eat and there is not much that is more important than feeding your family. And yet, we made time to go see people and we seemed to enjoy it.
Now, I enjoy the Internet as much as the next person and I will readily admit to working too much at times and the good ol' days weren't always good as I heard Billy Joel sing once. But I can't help but wonder why, in this time when we have so many technological advantages at our disposal, designed to get and keep us in contact with other people, that we seem to fall further and further out of real contact. Have we swallowed the bilge that advertisers and corporate America has been feeding us for so long, that we actually believe that we need their cellphones, their Ipads, their whatever, in order to have a life? Or is it just me?