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That's part of my new normal. Just last week I was thinking how different the world looks to my old eyes. I've been through plenty of periods of turmoil in the world, but these days my tolerance for it all has changed. That said, I cannot remember a time when the political climate was so toxic. Or the world in general, for that matter. A vague memory of watching the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago on TV, a horrifying spectacle for me, followed a year when we lost Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy by assassination. I wasn't even thirty yet, but I still have vivid memories of that awful time. So yeah, when I think back, this political climate isn't the worst I've seen.
But it's the meanest and scariest in a long, long time. In the almost fifty years since then, so much of my world has changed. Back then we had television everywhere but not much else. Our phones connected to the wall and only made phone calls. We had three major networks on TV that gave us the news and not much else to choose from. Nobody had personal computers, and the Apple I was just being invented. Nobody ever heard of the World Wide Web, which was invented in 1989, and now it dominates my life. Back then I read newspapers to get the majority of my news, along with books from the library (that hasn't changed). Newspapers are on their way out, and books can now be purchased and read electronically. Smartphones. Blogs. Google — all concepts that were still in the future in 1968.
I think one reason I enjoyed the series Mad Men so much is that I lived it myself. All those fashions I actually wore; in fact there was a Betty Draper shirtwaist dress in the first season that I know I had in my closet. Not to mention the feeling of those times, which the series captured so perfectly for me. Times long gone, and now they are part of history.
That's what happens when one gets old: you can look back on decades and see a trajectory of change, sometimes gradual and sometimes dramatic. But change for sure, and now as I sit here in my bedroom with a laptop (unconnected from the wall), a smartphone next to me, and infinite information available to me with just a quick search, I am really glad I've lived long enough to see and experience it all. When I was young, I remember watching a TV show that predicted a Dick Tracy-like watch that allowed video calling. A wrist-sized two-way radio in those days was a fantasy, much less communicating face to face. I didn't think I would ever see these things become reality, but they have, and much more I couldn't have predicted. This is our new normal.
Not only has technology changed our lives, but the sheer numbers of people on the planet has mushroomed from 3.5 billion in 1968 to 7.3 billion in 2015. A trajectory of population growth makes me glad I won't live to see it reach 9 billion (in 2040). Even though population growth is gradual, all those people have to live somewhere, eat and drink just like me, and dwindling resources are a fact of life. I could look up a statistic to find out how many people are starving every day, but I can't bring myself to look at what I know is a huge number.
I wonder if that massive population growth is one of the reasons for the wars roiling our precious blue planet. It is one way to reduce the population, after all. I won't even go into that, but my mind took me into that dark place. The clash of civilizations in a world too small for us, that's also our new normal. Thinking that we are going to bomb and kill our way out of this dilemma is simplistic. Or is it? Many dystopian novels I've read portray a world after the apocalypse that many of us see coming that I sure don't want to live in. If I'm lucky, I'll be dead before then, but today I can mourn for the future we've given our children. And who knows? Maybe it will be totally different than my imaginings. After all, I could never had predicted the world of today.
Another part of my new normal is getting accustomed to the aging process. It's a one-way street, and as I feel my back begin to pop and crack with age-related changes, and as I gaze at my spotted hands, I know that the changes in my body are completely normal. Just this week I saw the dermatologist and asked about a cyst that has appeared on my thumb. I thought maybe he'd just remove it, but he told me it's a benign cyst that is caused by osteoarthritis. It's not usually a problem, he said, but keep on eye on it and let him know if it changes. I also went to the dentist and got my teeth cleaned and checked out. I am lucky that I still have all my teeth, but that's partly because of the dentist's care, and brushing and flossing regularly. In the old days, teeth that got cavities would be pulled, not fixed up and given new life. Plus I guess I ended up with good genes for teeth.
But my new normal body bears little resemblance to the one I had in 1968. I was in my mid-twenties, after all. I see people who are that age today and they look so different from me that I have to remind myself that I was once that young. Yesterday I saw a young woman who had on jeans that barely covered her derriere, with enormously high heels that made her legs look like they went on for days. A long way from the prim shirtwaist I wore when I was her age.
But on the other hand, I went on a hike this past week and managed to cover a great distance with a pack on my back, almost twelve miles, and none of it was flat but pretty severely up and down. And even if I am still today feeling the effects of it, I was able to do it and get up the next day and make it to my exercise class. Today I am more fit than I was fifty years ago, so there's that new normal, one that I have earned through hard work. And I spent a good part of yesterday working my garden plot, raking and shoveling and pulling weeds. I must remember to give thanks for still being able to enjoy the outdoors and a good brain that allows me to do things like write this post.
The blogosphere, that fairly new part of my life, is now an essential component in my ability to enjoy life. Not only do I read several (that will be after I finish this one), but I have friends all over the world whose lives are intertwined with my own. We care about each other, and I always look forward to the comments left by you, my dear readers, people whose blogs give me a glimpse into your lives. I cherish that part of the new normal, and I thank you for sharing your worlds with me.
And with that, I will start the rest of my Sunday morning. My surroundings are all familiar, with my partner still sleeping as I write this, and my tea gone. I'll look forward to spending another half-hour or so with my fellow bloggers, make a quick scan of the day's news, and head out to my coffee shop to have a latte and visit with my dear "skin" friends. Until next week, then, I wish you all good things.