Today is June 10, 2020. It is also National Ballpoint Pen Day. On June 20, 1943 two Hungarian brothers who immigrated to Argentina, Laslo and Georg Biro, filed a patent for the ballpoint pen. The ballpoint pen was first sold in the U.S. at Gimbel’s department store in 1945 and cost a whopping $12.50 each. Today that would be $190 but it still wouldn’t be enough to buy a Montblanc StarWalker Ballpoint Pen on Amazon.
What we miss when going too slow
We left the house today. Really…more than just walking the dogs. We got in the car and drove to a doctor’s appointment about 10 miles away. Then, we bought groceries…at 2 different stores!
Four months ago I would not have believed that a two-hour outing to get my eyes checked and buy a few groceries would be blogworthy. It felt like a trip to the moon. I nearly messed up paying at the grocery store because it has been so long since I’ve had to use one of those credit card readers. At first I inserted the card; but panicked and pulled it back out of the machine. For a moment I couldn’t remember if I should have swiped it or inserted it. Of course my confusion in turn confused the card reader and it gave me a “card error” message for about 30 seconds. To be clear, it was neither the card nor the reader’s error. It was mine.
But this is what we’ve come to, isn’t it? We gotten used to a different pace and we get excited by the little things now.
Another little thing that I get excited about now when I go out is bathrooms. Why you ask? (Of course you didn’t but I know you were thinking it.) Because public bathrooms are not nearly as plentiful as they used to be. Since the pandemic not every business is letting the public use its bathrooms. When you get into a business and find it has a bathroom you can use it is like finding, excuse the really bad pun, the pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow.
These have been slower times during these months of self-isolation. Not less busy, but slower. The pace has opened up space to try some new things. I’ve been doing more reading, I’ve been learning to build websites on Google Sites, I’ve been learning video editing, and I’ve been learning to play ukelele.
Playing ukelele has been my dream since I met Taimane Gardner. At the time she was about 15 or 16 years old and she was playing on the street in front of my hotel in Honolulu. It was my first work trip to Hawai`i and I was walking around Waikiki Beach in the evening. As I was returning to my hotel, I heard her playing and decided to stop, watch, and listen for a bit. While she played, her mom and dad stood close by selling her first CD, Loco Princess (which I still have, by the way). Between songs I talked with her parents and during a break I got to talk with her. She began playing at age 5 and is often described as a ukelele virtuoso. At that time she told me she hoped to travel to the mainland to study at Julliard. That didn’t happen but her career seems to have taken off. I will never play like her, but, wow, what an inspiration!
During this time of self-isolation I’ve also been reminded of life before the conveniences we enjoy now, like cable, cell phones, internet, satellite radio, and social media. However, when I reflect on how much slower we lived before these things, I think maybe I didn’t so miss much. I mean…
- I still watched more TV than I should have with only ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS available over the air. (Our nearest TV station was 60+ miles away, which sometimes meant I’d have to go outside and turn the antenna by hand to get clear reception.)
- I still got in trouble for spending too much time on our one family phone. (Rotary dial, no push buttons.)
- I still got enough news about the Vietnam War from our local daily newspaper to feel depressed as I waited to turn 18 and be eligible for the draft. (My draft number? 364. Trump’s? Heel spurs.)
- I still had one ear glued to the radio for my music. (Chicago’s WLS 890 AM and DJ Larry Lujack was a constant companion through my high school years in Southeast Iowa.)
- I still saw enough cute cats and dogs living on a farm. (We always had a dog and way, way, way too many cats.)
On the other hand, I actually did miss a lot. We all did in those slower times. True, instantaneous news in a constantly online world can be irritating. However, it helps us see more things we missed when news moved slower.
Thanks to the velocity of news today, we were able learn quickly about the harrassment of Christian Cooper in Central Park in New York City by an entitled dog walker. We were able to learn about the murder of George Floyd before it could be covered up. We learned about, actually could see in real time, peaceful protester’s being pushed out of LaFayette Square to make way for Trump’s photo op. Unless we see and feel these outrages in real time and respond in real time, our efforts for change will always be too little, too late.
Sometimes we need a break from the rapid fire of information. Sometimes we need to step away from chaos, uncertainty, and the stress it can bring. Sometimes we need to go slow to disconnect for a little bit so we can maintain our sanity, perspective, and strength. At the same time we cannot allow our comfort in the slow periods to divorce us from the reality of our world and the part we need to play in making change.
Chickenman – Episode 54
The Winged Warrior seems to have fallen on hard times in Midland City. He is no longer as highly regarded as he once was. However, it turns out he has a fan club.
Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep striving for justice, peace, and health for all.