The biggest gift the past ten weeks has given me is the awareness of how I had designed a life that was unmanageable and also unenjoyable for myself.
It’s helped me realize what I want to reinsert into my life when things return to normal, and what never should have been a part of it in the first place.
Yesterday I saw this on the Train With Joan Instagram page, and it was another reminder that of all the things, there are only a small little sliver that really matter.
(Also, if staying in shape is a priority for you and/or if thinking you are too old to make changes is a limiting belief you are subscribing to, you should totally follow Train With Joan on Instagram).
Anyway, the biggest takeaway for me from the past 75 days is that I want to keep my life as simple as possible once things start opening up and when life returns to normal.
I am determined not to recreate the life I was living a few months ago.
Today I was cleaning up in the kitchen and watching Home Town on the iPad and a commercial came on.
It was for a smart oven.
A frazzled mom came into the kitchen carrying grocery bags in both arms, and she was clearly stressed and a little exasperated and she put the groceries on the counter as she told Alexa to heat the oven to 350°.
I was a little bit disturbed by this.
My mind immediately went to Ray Bradbury’s short story The Veldt.
That story fucked with my brain when I was a teenager, and I’ve never forgotten it.
If you’ve never read it, it was written in 1950something.
A family of four lives in a house that’s totally automated, and the kids have a virtual reality nursery where they can turn the walls into anything. The parents, George and Lydia, are concerned about their kids’ behavior. They call in an expert. The expert recommends they ditch the automation and live in a normal house where they actually have to do things to take care of themselves. The nursery has been stuck on an African veldt setting. The kids get pretty pissed when their parents tell them they are going to shut all the automated stuff down, but before they can do that, the kids sucker their parents into the nursery, and the expert comes to the house to find lions chowing down on George and Lydia’s remains.
I remember thinking there was no way in hell a house like that could ever exist.
And here we are.
We’ve got virtual reality and we’ve got appliances that stand at attention and follow orders to turn on when we tell them to.
Cooking the entire dinner without any effort from us is not really all that far off.
I found that commercial to be almost as disturbing as The Veldt.
I very much appreciate my smartphone. I appreciate the conveniences it brings me and I appreciate the fact that I can very easily communicate with the people I want to communicate with.
But when life gets too busy for you to even be able to take the time to walk three or four steps across your kitchen and turn your own fucking oven on, well, you don’t need an Alexa and a smart oven.
You need to simplify.
We are going in the wrong direction.
It’s terrifying to me, really.
That smart oven commercial is horrible.
We don’t need to add more automation to our lives so we can cram more shit into it!
We need to do the total opposite.
Because if we don’t, I don’t think lions feasting on the remains of parents in the next couple generations is really all that far off.
So I’m sticking with Little House On The Prairie, my really dumb appliances, and the very simple — and unautomated — fire pit in my back yard.
As ever, awesome. Thanks Susie. You continue to inspire. Thanks, too, for the Instagram with Joan thingy. It’s time.
Well said, fellow teacher! I’d never read the Veldt.
Oh my gosh! I remember this from story from high school… that and the lottery were truly disturbing!
Beth Lean says
It’s important for parents to establish boundaries and communicate them clearly to their children, in order to maintain a healthy and respectful relationship. I agree with the author’s stance on not tolerating disrespectful behavior, and encouraging her children to take responsibility for their actions. It’s never easy to stand firm in the face of challenging situations, but as parents, we owe it to ourselves and our children to set clear expectations and hold ourselves accountable for upholding them. Thank you for sharing this thoughtful and relatable post!