The past has always held a special appeal for me, full of fond memories and hope and security. In my past I find instruction and experience; fond memories and the hope which enables me to face the speed and chaos and sadness that seem to define our current existence. There’s something about the past that makes many of us wish we could return to those times: those days when life was simpler and less complicated. If you were born before the turn on the century you would understand what I’m talking about. Before the days of instant messaging and social media; the days when life moved at a pace that you could understand and enjoy, because you didn’t miss a single event or occurrence…and you had time to process your experiences emotionally, before the next one came around. Now everything is moving so fast: tweets and posts, hash tags and memes are propelling us forward faster than some of us care to move. Now you can post a picture online in the morning and become a celebrity before noon, and almost immediately become old news before nightfall. I’m saying this to those people who like me, miss the sweet torture of falling for that girl in your neighborhood, or that boy in your school and be completely powerless to do anything about it, because the only way you can communicate your feelings to them is to actually walk up to them and say something…or write them a letter and beg your best friend to pass it along.
I miss the days of the analogue telephone; my fingers shaking as I dialed the numbers of her family’s home phone; my heart pounding as the clicking and buzzing tells me that the telephone is ringing on the other end; my stomach knotting up in fear at the thought that her father or her uncle might pick up and demand to know who is calling. I miss that feeling of euphoria when she comes on the line and we talk for as long as her folks – or mine – would allow the conversation to go on. I miss pouring my feelings on paper and posting it to her. I miss the exquisite agony of waiting 2 to 4 weeks for her reply; checking the family post office box every day until I get that brown envelope addressed to me; written in her teenage cursive, her words echoing the love and devotion I feel for her. I miss the long distance relationship, where you both have to wait until school goes on holiday to see or speak to each other. In some way I believe that love is only genuine when you either have to wait for it, or you have to endure making difficult choices to get it. In today’s world almost everything is instant: communication is instant, connection is instant, but worst of all…gratification is instant. If you cannot wait, you don’t have to. If you insist on waiting the world will pass you by and you will be left behind. The world does not care if your emotions are ready or not, because there really is no time for emotions. There’s only time for sensations.
I miss the days past when friendship meant something more than a tweet, or a Facebook meme or a short Instagram video, or words typed on a Whatsapp message or a quick phone call; those days when you waited for the weekend or the holidays to see your pals, because they were just as busy as you are and just as eager to see you. I miss walking thirty to forty minutes to your friend’s house just to “hang out” and talk for a few hours, with no electronic interface between you. I miss bonding over shared interests like paperback novels and music – not music videos mind you – just good music. I miss exchanging cassette tapes and compact discs and watching or listening to them, treating them with care because you know how your friend would feel if you returned them scratched or torn. I miss the passion and discipline of starting a collection. It didn’t matter what your collection was made up of, because back then everything was not digitized and disposable, replaceable, and easily duplicated. I miss bookshops and corner stores; being able to go out for a stroll at night without the fear of being robbed and injured by touts in a neighborhood that used to be safe for children to play in until mum came out to call you to come in for dinner.
But most of all, what I believe I miss most, is sincerity. I miss the days when life was straightforward, whether it was fair or unfair. I miss the days when only the wise in society were given an audience, and every fool with a smartphone couldn’t just come online and spew idiocy and foolish, negative sentiment. I miss the days when men thought before they spoke, and quotes meant real wisdom, and not a mish mash of words that have been retweeted and forwarded until they have lost all meaning…or bearing on the real problems of society. I’m not saying bring back the old days, because the new days have their positives too. But let us please remember the value we placed on the simple, small things like truth and integrity, because back then we were ruled by the best of our characters, and not the worst of our instincts.
In conclusion, I want to say I miss the way value was appreciated. Words were precious; time was priceless; delay was treated as part of the process, and the journey was every bit as fulfilling as the destination, because it was fun. If you were born in the 1900s and you grew up in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, this is for you. The young ones won’t be able to understand that there was a time when nude pictures weren’t just a click away; when the word “friend” didn’t have “Facebook” preceding it, and nobody followed anyone online, because everyone had an equal amount of value to offer…and all it took was appreciating life enough to see it. Namaste!