This, in reality, should be written into a much larger work. Most likely the collection of related ideas that I have should be a book but, I don’t have the knowledge, time or inclination to write a book. Instead I will herein attempt to convey some of the thoughts I’ve had about the state of society today.
When I was in third grade, I designed my first house. Of course, when I say “designed” I don’t mean from a structural point of view. I was, of course, just a child. I did however give a fairly detailed layout or floor plan of what I considered to be the ideal house. This house was underground. It’s sprawling mass was so huge that tunnels connected the rooms and go karts were used to get around. It even included a launch pad for a Saturn V rocket so I could go to space. It was a dream, okay? This dream house had one item in particular that has since held a last impression on me. It had a front porch.
There may not have been much of a house behind it that one could see but there was a front porch of sorts. Even at the young age, I was able to see that a front porch was vital. It was a heart to an otherwise bleak existence. Living underground you would be more or less cut off from the surrounding world; never seeing your neighbors except for brief moments walking to the car or flying off to the moon in your giant rocket. A front porch, however, changes the equation. The front porch becomes the life line. It connects you.
I didn’t know it at the time but the front porch would eventually come to symbolize for me the downfalls of a modern society. A disposable society of individuals locked up inside their various underground bunkers. Bunkers both material and immaterial.
To me, the problems in our current society are undeniably linked to the lack of front porches in modern architecture. The stoop reigns supreme and the garage secures us in our air conditioned bunkers, free form the possibility of community. Think about it. You come home, pull into the driveway, click the remote for the garage door, it opens and you drive inside. Once inside you close the door, walk into your house completely concealed from prying eyes. Now that you’re inside you go about your daily rituals. Preparing dinner while watching the news. Eating dinner while watching prime time. Maybe you exercise a bit. Whatever you do, it’s inside. Away from the people next door or down the street. Eventually you go to bed only to wake up the next day and do it all again.
Back in the day, things worked fairly differently. My grandfather would come home from work, my grandmother preparing dinner, and he would go to his front yard. He would then take an old coffee can of grass seed and walk around, seeding his grass. After he finished a once over with the seed bucket he would bring out the hose and water the lawn. Now the interesting thing about this is what happened whenever someone walked by. He would ask them if they wanted a beer. Every. Single. Person. If they declined he would wish them a pleasant evening and continue about his work. If they accepted, he would put down the bucket or turn off the hose, walk inside, get two beers, wrap a napkin around each of them, secure it with a rubber band, and go back to the front yard. He would then sit with this stranger or neighbor and drink a beer in his front yard.
Back then, there was a sense of community. People knew their neighbors. Talked to their neighbors. They had front porches. The front porch was a place that people could hang out and see each other. See the people walking down the street. Crime was lower because there was always someone outside seeing what was happening. People knew who lived in the community.
Contrast that to now when people stay inside and choose to ignore what happens around them and the people around them. The idea and feeling of community has been put under the guillotine called disposable. It’s often been called the Walmarting of America. Things are cheap, easy and disposable. iPod doesn’t work? Throw it away and get another! Paper towels. Use em once and throw it away! Cars are disposable for god’s sake. Engine busted? Get a new car!
As more and more products started to show up on the market being advertised as disposable, people started to expect this “feature.” As the idea and expectation of disposable permeated our society, it became the culture of America. It’s no longer a feature of certain isolated products but a feature of an entire culture and society. The problem with this is that it now extends to every facet of life. People are disposable. Divorce rates are soaring. Why? It’s easy. Marriage isn’t working? Throw it away. Got in a fight? Throw it away.
As our society embraced the idea that every is disposable, they lost a great human quality. That quality is patience. If everything is disposable you don’t have to wait for anything. The paper towel doesn’t have to dry because you dispose of the wet one and grab a brand new one that is perfectly dry. If you’re relationship is having problems, you throw it away and find the new sparkly one, never realizing that at some point it too will tarnish and you’ll end up doing the same thing over again. No one has the patience to fix anything anymore. No one patches their clothing anymore. It takes too much time.
They of course never realize that the most valuable things around you took time to make. The old pocket watch that belonged to your great grandfather that sits in your dresser drawer, loved so much that you leave it there, not wanting to lose it, was made with such painstaking care and though that it took weeks to create. It wasn’t pumped out of some assembly line, looking, feeling and operating exactly like the twenty million others that were made that year. It was a labor of love and it is valuable. It wasn’t made to be disposable, that’s why it has worth.
So it’s easy to assume that if something is disposable it has no worth. Now apply that logic to relationships. If a relationship with another person is considered to be disposable, then what value does it have? None. If you want a valuable relationship with another person, you can’t treat it as being disposable. You have to overcome the societal tendency to throw things away and you have to patch it up, repaint it, and fix it. People aren’t freakin’ disposable! A relationship or marriage takes a great amount of work. It’s not all about you. Sometimes you have to work at it. Sometimes you have to compromise.
If you want a marriage or relationship that you don’t care about then fine, let it be disposable. If you want a meaningful relationship with another person then work on being patient. Work on fixing. Then and only then will you be able to have a lasting relationship with meaning and value.
I’ve had this happen to me several times. I date someone and something goes wrong. Every time, without fail, someone immediately tells me to walk away, forget about it, etc. For me, I’m usually not willing to do that. I’ll stay with it for a long time trying to work it out. Sometimes you know it’s never gonna happen and it is best to walk away. But often, with some work, you can get it right. Take for example the girl I’ve been pursuing for about a year now. Most people would have given up long ago. For the first 6 months she was dating someone else so I let my intentions be known and left it at that. Karma man, I don’t wanna try and bust up someone else’s relationship. So eventually they broke up. We went out once but then I got really busy at work and she got really busy with school. My friends said I should forget it. I stayed with it. She had family problems and had to leave town. My friends said forget it, I stuck with it. Now, she’s back and we still aren’t dating. She’s having a pretty rough time and just can’t do it. What am I doing? Sticking with it. If I meet someone else, fine but, I’m not giving up on her yet. Why? The answer is simple. She means a lot to me. I think she’s a very special person that I would very much like to keep in my life. It’s not all about me. If she can’t make time for me at the moment, that’s okay. Deal with the issues you need to deal with.
In the meantime, I’ll be patient. Patient with her and patient the things that have value to me.
Patience. It’s a very valuable thing.