I loved today’s SMH Heckler, so much so I’ve reproduced it in full below.
What do we want? Instant gratification! When do we want it?
May 25, 2007
"Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can. Seldom in a woman, never in a man."
In the world of the noughties, this adage really has added bite. There is less room for patience than ever before. Even worse, there is little room for expectation, or the joy of anticipation.
I took a photo of my granddaughter on my now outmoded, got-to-have-film-in-it camera. She immediately said, "Can I see it?" Obviously her dad’s got a digital. There’s no need to wait.
But I still enjoy the anticipation of waiting for the film to be processed, and the excitement of looking through the prints to see if I have that shot I’d tried to catch. OK, some are not as intended – but that’s all part of the joy of anticipation. With your digital you can see straight away, you can take another 20 shots! But it’s all over in an instant.
In the noughties we want instant gratification. The price we pay is loss of the joy of anticipation.
Communication now is instant. You can join chat rooms on the net; text on the mobile; call people from wherever you may be. On the train? No problem! Just call them and yell out your secrets.
During the time of the dinosaurs, my then fiancee and I were teaching in different locations in the bush. Telephones were scarce and, in remote areas, relied on being connected to the nearest exchange by fencing wire strung on poles. They were called "party lines" because there were several parties connected by the same line, meaning others could listen in to your conversation, and the local exchange operator knew everything about everybody (if she so desired). Hardly the venue for sharing intimate thoughts. So, we communicated by writing letters (what’s that?). It took time, and thought, to compose a letter. You thought about the person, you thought about what you wanted to say; and you waited with excitement and anticipation for the reply. The waiting, the thinking, deepened the feelings and developed a relationship based on more than physical closeness and instant pleasure.
In his book Surprised By Joy, C.S.Lewis wrote of joy as "an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction". He said, "It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still ‘about to be’."
We have lost this joy, even in the little things. Think about showbags. For months before the Show we would dream of what exciting things we might get. Now kids get on the net before the Show, suss out what’s in each bag and it’s all done and dusted before they leave the house.
Well, that’s it. I’ll just hit "send". Who wants to stuff around with envelopes and stamps?