It's a chilly grey day here. I've been spending the afternoons lately going through some large manilla envelopes of letters and photos that Mom sent to me some time ago. They are mostly letters and drawing and photos that the kids and I send to her over the last 20 years, with a few letters from my younger sisters LeOni, Kristi or Tandi mixed in for good measure. It has been a fun journey to go through them and I find myself amazed I took so much time to write and feel grateful we worked so hard to stay connected with a large variety of family. They tell a remarkable tale of a very busy family striving to do all they could to do what they thought was good, right and needful, always struggling for balance and improvement.
I have thrown much away but I have saved a bit to pass on to kids or siblings who may enjoy a small reminder themselves for they too to pass them along or throw them out. It's okay. However, after hours of sorting and reading, I came to the very last letter in the pile, a letter from me to Mom, Dad and Family (whichever siblings were living at home on June 25, 1996.) I will quote from the last page of it:
…… ( Jeff had just got our computer and printer set up for email for the first time)
" so Jeff is ready to start sending e-mail to Dad on it! We signed up on line through our library system for free and wondered if your library offered something similar. Now that our computer can print, I'm anxious to learn a few things for Primary handouts and how to use our terribly inconvenient library system from home etc. Anyway, if you get an email address let us know what it is. We should have ours in a few days. Jeff says we're becoming like the "Borg" on Star Trek, all interconnected by this computer stuff. It's amazing and confusing and overwhelming to me-- mostly because it changes so rapidly that I realize you can never really say "I know it". Your'e basically always obsolete unless you're the genius in development.
But I can see the day when my pen and paper and comforting books are only "collectors items,"…or works of art. We'll curl up in a comfy chair instead, with a little portable screen, like a large calculator maybe, to "read" our favorite book. Grandma and I both can say "we never had this and we never had that" in our youth. But I realize how technology is condensing our lives when I can look back 13 years to high school and realize so much we learned and studied is literally obsolete--- shorthand, manual typewriters, etc. I learned typing in high school on a manual typewriter, now Layton starts keyboarding in kindergarten! I would fail a math test in high school if I used a calculator - now they teach my first grader to use them! and I'm still young! what will I be able to say when I'm old?! "
Well….. nearly 20 years later I had to laugh as I read this hand written letter (in my very nice handwriting I must say) just inches away from my i-pad on which I had been listening to an audio book this morning while I exercised and tried to do a bit of cleaning in the yard and on the other side of the pages, was my iPhone, on which a long string of texts from our daughters, and photos of our lovely granddaughter had been streaming in for hours.
I still had to hire a guy to help us work on our printer this week so I could scan some family history in to share with Jeff's family, but I also had spent time last week in Alabama with my sweet almost 13 year old niece, Megan, helping me learn family search stuff on my iPad while she sat by me on the sofa… I still need her help by the way…. I'm not proficient yet!
But wow! What a long way we have come! I still feel barely competent on all this stuff, and feel an almost equal mix sometimes of awe and frustration with it. But overall, I think I feel pretty great about the blending of old and new in my life… I feel pretty good about my efforts to stay up to speed and to use the tools of my generation for good. It makes me grateful for the way these things have helped or large, dispersed family stay connected and involved. AND I feel so excited to see what else will come in the future to bless our lives and solve problems. What an amazing generation in which to live!
So… here's to "interconnectedness", however it happens!