As an older person, I have a perspective on living conditions then and now because how I lived then is different from how I live now. I appreciate the differences.
Then there were no digital devices on which to rely for communication, storage or photos, etc. Now there is a plethora of computers, chips and bytes, etc. which the designers and engineers assured us would make our lives easier and better. Life is both better and worse, so take that for what it is.
Then there was no television, only telegraph and telephone. Then I listened to the radio and read newspapers to discover what was happening both locally and in the larger world. Now it’s in my face and my ears all the time, unless I choose otherwise. I am glad to have choices.
Then there were no electric cars, no microwave ovens, fast food franchises, big box stores or online shopping. We shopped in places owned by people whom we knew and who knew us. Now those shops and grocery stores are gone for the most part. Now appliances, automobiles, smart phones and computers have built in obsolescence. Refrigerators are built to last 10 years, smart phones and computers even less.
Then travel was by foot, bicycle, car, bus, train and piston airplanes. Now travel is faster and at any given time there are 3 million people traveling by air around the world and 87,000 flights in the air every day in the United States. The pandemic has slowed that considerably. Now cars and trucks clog most urban and suburban highways. And the interstate highway system is under constant construction for replacement and repair. Now we continue to hope for better travel conditions.
Then a visit to the doctor was paid often out of pocket although some early health insurance plans for hospital and medical expense were introduced as early as the1920s. Individual hospitals and employers offered pre-paid plans to help cover the cost of medical expenses starting in 1929. Now, Medicare, which began in 1965, was designed with the idea that the vast majority of Americans would eventually receive a uniform level of coverage and care once they became eligible. As a recipient I receive a basic level of care, but that basic level is riddled with coverage gaps. Now health care is so complicated, expensive and cumbersome that it’s close to being incomprehensible. Health care and education are among top issues of concern.
Then there was polio, measles, mumps, chicken pox, strep infections, scarlet fever and the flu. Now there is a full blown pandemic of a virus known as Covid 19 As of today over 190,000 deaths in the United States attributed to that illness alone.
Then I had few concerns about my physical and mental well-being. Now I am more conscious about how to take care of myself and aware of specific ways to do that. I am grateful to be able to make conscious choices.
Then I lived in a 2 story, 3 bedroom, 1 bath house with my family of origin, then a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house with my nuclear family. Now I live in a 2 bedroom, 2 bath casita with my wife and no kids. They are scattered coast to coast. Now we see them less frequently and communicate wirelessly.
Then I worked full time, loved my work and felt challenged and rewarded. Now I work part time, love my work and feel challenged and rewarded.
Then I absorbed learning, new adventures and relationships with keen interest and enjoyment. Now I absorb learning, new adventures and relationships with keen interest and enjoyment. Gratitude for learning remains a constant presence in my life.
I am grateful for then and for now as well as knowing that I have changed and not changed.