Thursday, February 25, 2010

25 February 1956 “No Excuses, Just Happy Diversion. And A Job To Do.”

I was feeling rather guilty over not having posted these past two days. Though I don’t always post everyday, I at least  begin writing, scanning images, research etc to prepare for the actual posting. Yet, I cannot claim to have done that these past two days.

These past few days, except for a few moments of ‘sticking my head in’ at the Forums, have been blissfully unplugged. I have gone about my usual day, of course, the running of this house, the preparations of its meals, sewing,  and such. Yet, I have almost not touched the computer.

As I have mentioned before, we have a TV in our house, but it is hooked to nothing save a DVD player and we rarely use that. So, that contraption has not been too much  distraction in any case. But I must, by the very nature of my project ( my writings and website and research) use the computer. And I don’t know why, but these past few days I have just looked at it and sort of moved on. At one point I think I almost scoffed at it, that great heap of metal on the floor next my desk. That wretched dust trap (for surely it is that if nothing else) and the odd black screen; lifeless like an empty picture frame.

I did not do this on purpose. I did not get up and say, “Alright, I shall not touch you over these next few days” but it just sort of happened. I think what I have discovered now, which has finally lead me to write this, is that while in the past the TV and computer were the distraction from my life, now My Life is the distraction from the computer and TV. That is to say, at one point, I would muddle about with life, trying to get it done as quick and slapdash as possible so I could get to the TV and computer. Now, these past days, I have found myself happily humming along though my life and dreading having to get back onto the computer. Odd indeed!

It seems as I continually get deeper into this new sort of life I am living, that so many concepts of living have changed. Things I thought cement and constants have been shown to me to be merely my perceptions or modern day notions. I always wonder when this will sort of ‘level off’ and then another thing like this happens. I find my whole level of thought and pleasure flipped topsy-turvy. I am again, Alice at the tea party with the Mad Hatter.

There is always a little lesson in it for me, these ‘ah-ha’ moments as I have come to call them. There is a realization that I have suddenly begun to do things in a very different way or in a way contrary to what I thought normal. Then I will find that normal is relative and that often this new way makes more sense. Even my very core beliefs and understanding of people and politics etc have changed. We can be so IN THE MOMENT, that unless we step so far out( 54 years out to be exact) we can not see how we are merely reacting to the norms of our times. There is a lot of mimicry and mind washing done to us in the modern world as we are all so ‘plugged in’. It wasn’t until I unplugged and stepped back that I really realized how deep this goes.

Now, this post isn’t going to be about how I am going to run away from the computer nor try to use it less. I feel a very real duty and obligation to write my blog, continue to work on my website, and to grow it and to contribute to the forum. I even feel compelled to possibly make a book of my experiences from last year. I do not need to do this. There is no one telling me to do so, yet I feel it is right and that it should be done.

I do feel, at least from all of you who have written me and commented on my posts over last year and up to now, that I have touched you and made you think. That rather you are hating my, thinking me mad, agreeing with me, or thinking me confused, you none the less were there and wanted to see more. So, with that I feel a certain level of responsibility. This is another element new to me since 1955. The old me would have tried it out for a few months, became bored or lazy and moved onto something else. But, part of what pushed me forward last year, what made me get through the humps of “I just don’t want to write today, or I don’t want to clean or work on that meal, etc” was that I thought, “I have taken on a bit of serious work here”. I am out  to prove that a homemaker is a real person that it is a real career and that the way it was once addressed is valid and is IMPORTANT.  This spurred me on, made me feel I was doing something worthwhile and important. And, feeling responsible to all of you and myself  kept me going. IT is the very feeling that will keep me going with this blog and the site and the forum and any other avenues this takes me down.

But, just for these past few days, I was a little belligerent. I was busy with my days, baking bread, working on my dress, planning out new dresses for Spring, thinking about doing over my kitchen, looking for seeds and planning out my garden. My walks in town and to our local library, chatting with people there, going out to find more local merchants to shop at. These were important to me, but they were also fun and it left me dreading the computer at home. There was just so much Living going on, that it was work to drag myself to the computer.

I am okay with this new finding. THIS is a wonderful realization for me that the very things which may have seemed drudgery or work before or things I thought would feel that way, or be too much bother, have become the things I look forward to doing. The old ‘distractions’ (computer) are now the work. But, it is my work, this blog and site and such, and I shall treat it that way. I have no children and therefore cannot say to myself that I cannot find time in my ‘busy day’ to do my bit of work. I have found myself this far in and I don’t want to turn back. I know much of what has come to be the better quality of this new life is responsibility. Responsibility to my husband to make our home, manage our money in exchange for his working outside of the home. My responsibility to my country and the things I want to see change, to try and shop locally and save and reuse. And, of course, the responsibility to all of you to continue to record my findings, share what I find and to grow a site so that we can, all of we crazy ‘outsiders’ can have a place to go and commune with like minded people. To share ideas and ideals. This is a very important job and though it can sometimes seem very much like real work for which I do not receive actual money, it is none the less important. My modern concept of placing value on things only by the comparative money it generates is over. In many ways, it makes it harder for me sometimes, but I cannot let it stop me. I know I should and will go forward learning and sharing and writing.

So, this post won’t contain any recipes or pictures of my dress. There is no images or videos displaying the 50’s in some way. It is merely to explain this wonderful discovery I have made. How does it affect you? Well, I think there are some of you who do feel now that TV and computers are your distraction or your reward, but in some way feel you wish it wasn’t so. For those of you, I am proof that it can be changed. It means hard work and working at that which you want to do other than tv/computer, but the happy result will be that the ‘other stuff’ will soon become that happy diversion. Though ‘writing that book, cooking that meal, learning to sew, trying to shop local’ all those things are harder than what we can do to ‘get by’ in the modern world, they are not always the most fulfilling. Most times the best things are hard won and the good of it is, once won, they are suddenly a joy and no longer hard work or struggle.

For anyone else, it is merely another moment in my odd little life that you might look at like as you would a  picture in a museum. You can stare and wonder, “How on earth” or “Well that’s sort of pretty” or “How horribly out of date” and then move on to the next. For whatever purpose it serves, I felt the need to share it. To put it out there.

I don’t want it to sound as if I think writing is just hard work. I have always liked writing and enjoyed it, but I was lazy about it. I would never follow through. I used to subscribe to that very modern statement: Well, if you like something or it is fun, if you turn it into a job, you will grow to hate it. I now realize that is just another modern moment where we disguise our laziness as some truth or concrete reason. Writing isn’t easy. I don’t even know if I am any good at it,  I know my spelling is atrocious, but I do like it. Is it always easy? NO. Is it always fun to research some news and recipes and various topics for a post? No, sometimes it can be quite tedious and make me swear under my breath, but when I am done with it, I am glad for it. Hard work and determination DOES really pay off. It seems that sort of adage or common sense rule of  “if you want something worthwhile than work at it, work hard and it will be all the sweeter for its labor”, is never really taught anymore. It almost seems we worry more about rather people/children are more in touch with their feelings or if they feel ‘okay’ with things more than just saying, “Tough, it’s hard but get to work and in the end you will have something”. You will know how to play an instrument very well. You will be able to write papers for school. You can rebuild an engine. You can write a novel. You can perform brain surgery. You can run a home efficiently and beautifully. You can raise a child to a good responsible human being.

I have thought a bit about Tasha Tudor again over these past few days. I imagined how she was able to completely submerse herself into her ‘time’. Certainly 1840’s may be much harder than 1950’s ,but the more I ‘take away’ the modern bits, the more I covet the more antiquated things. At one point I thought, “Well, 1955 is not too shabby, as I can have my dishwasher and dryer, my electric lights, color movies, even TV if I want it”  But the more I live the experience the more I see that were I to suddenly do “My Year 1855” it would be quite hard at first, much like 1955. I would find myself stumbling, as if brand new to housework and such, into odd territories. Yet, I don’t think now that I could not do it. And I may even end up not wanting to come back from the 19th century.

But, I won’t. At least not yet. I have found that while my initial experience was an almost ‘hide away’ project, my new life has become more about how I can help other people as well. I have come to feel more in tune with my life and to truly be living than ever before. While it would be easy to just turn off the computer and turn away from all of you (save using old fashioned letter writing which I have got behind in because of my amount of computer writing) and go on, quietly. Yet,  I cannot nor will not. Even if only one or two of you remained after a few more months of my site and blog here, yet enjoyed reading my words or even were angry enough to write back to me, I would feel an obligation. I think that so important. That is the main thing that seems to be missing from our modern world: personal responsibility and obligations to others.

I know there are plenty of modern people who are more self responsible and responsible to others, but for the most part it is easy to just cloister ourselves away and do nothing but the bare minimum to scrape by, as it is so easy and to just ‘entertain’ ourselves the rest of the time. Why bother doing or trying harder, it might interfere with our ‘shows’ or our computer time. Now I know( at least for me) that Entertainment was actually stealing my life away. It was and is not bad in itself, but the amount of time and energy I put towards it could and has been better spent in other avenues and I am happier for it. True, that might not be so for all, but if even one person could feel that freedom, then I will feel I have done my ‘Job’.

woman with typewriter So, thanks again to those of you who bother to listen to my rants and writings. I am honored to have this bit of work to do.

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