Challenge is to keep local community while going global

BY BOB WACHS, Columnist
Posted 6/12/20

A few days ago I inadvertently misplaced (not the same thing as “lost”) a pocket leather-bound notebook/wallet gizmo I typically carry. In it, there’s usually a few dollars, a calendar, …

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Challenge is to keep local community while going global

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A few days ago I inadvertently misplaced (not the same thing as “lost”) a pocket leather-bound notebook/wallet gizmo I typically carry. In it, there’s usually a few dollars, a calendar, assorted notes on people I want to see or a list of groceries (loaf of milk, gallon of bread, peanut butter) I need to buy, some pictures of the world’s greatest grandchildren, and various other important pieces of stuff.

When I’m wearing a sport coat or suit jacket or even a windbreaker or other outer garment, I don’t have all that much trouble keeping up with the gizmo since it typically lives in one of the inside pockets of those garments. It’s when I’m not wearing such a piece of clothing, like now when it’s so hot, that I lose bits and pieces of my mind wondering where the thing is and how it got there.

Some folks, usually the 30-something crowd whose members were born technologically superior to any of us dinosaurs, tell me that I should do away with the bulky accessory and get myself a slim, trim (to match my physique) Blackberry or smart phone or some other thing with a similar-sounding name that I can carry on my belt. On that electronic do-dad, they say, I can keep up with all my life on something no bigger than a Rook card and that it’s so small I won’t lose it.

To me, that kind of thinking flies in the face of logic, mainly because little things are what most of tend to lose. Have you ever heard of anyone misplacing their elephant?

Anyway, me getting one of those gadgets is pretty much an impossibility for several reasons. First, “blackberry” is something my daddy and I picked with Roland Farrell when I was a lad. Then we took them home to Mama, at least the ones I hadn’t eaten in the name of doing quality control, and she would make blackberry jam or cobblers, the last of which is a dish to be eaten warm out of the oven topped with large amounts of creamy vanilla ice cream.

I don’t think you can do that with an electronic message storer/phone/camera or whatever else the things can do. The days Dick Tracy could only dream about are here. Did you really think the two-way wrist watch radio wouldn’t come to pass? Now folks have created a camera that also makes calls and other assorted electro-gadgets.

While all those gadgets are, I guess, nice in terms of keeping up with all we have to do and where we have to go and with whom and what we have to do those things it strikes me sometimes that we’ve become prisoners of ourselves and our lifestyles.

My grandpa and grandma went all their lives without such. I don’t know if they ever owned a TV, which means they never got to see Larry King or hear about his umpteenth wife or soak in CNN or whomever. They did have a radio. Grandpa thought it was a hoot that he had a big ol’ cabinet model with vacuum tubes in the back. After he got the thing tuned in just right through the static to hear Fibber McGee and Molly or his favorite — The Lone Ranger — he’d jerk the knob off so nobody could change the dial.

And today, some of the younger generation find it almost impossible to believe that when I was their age, I had to get up out of my chair and walk across the living room to change the channel from what it was on to one of only three others. (For the record, they were Channel 2 in Greensboro, which we didn’t get too clearly in east Pittsboro, 5 in Raleigh and 11 in Durham. There was also Channel 4 but it was mostly school lessons, not yet having moved to broadcasting Doo-Wop concerts, country music documentaries and assorted old rock and roll celebrations.)

These days I’m wondering exactly why is “bigger” better? Who says we must have this gadget or that? Why? Why do we really need to know what the Stock Market is doing at the exact moment? Why do I need or even want to know what Sheik Ali Fuzzy is thinking right now?

I know...I know...we’re all part of the global community and what happens on the other side of the world or even the street can and often does trickle down or back to us all. And I know not everyone agrees with me. There are lots and lots of folks who love to run wide open all the time and can’t have enough gadgets and such and things to do and places to go to save their souls.

I just don’t think I’m one of them. To quote my boyhood friend and adviser on matters from the heart to the pocketbook, Bobby Joe High, “The hurryer I go the behinder I get.”

Lest you think I have mastered this art of throwing off some of the technological trappings of our lifestyle for a more simple existence, let me assure you I haven’t.


Once I accidentally left my cell phone lying on the bed one Sunday as we went off to church and I may not have heard my sermon trying to remember if I’d lost the thing.

But I’m trying...trying to do more or less only what’s necessary, trying to sit on the screened-in back porch, listening to the birds, trying to appreciate the beauty of the sunset before the glare of neon hides it, trying to savor the good folks we meet along the way who make life better.

I think it’s in the trying that we find the quality of life.


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