Monday, July 15, 2019

In Praise of Modernity

Good Monday morning.

This past week a handful of people asked me when I'd resume blogging. Well, you see, I did. I was on sabbatical during the month of June, but I've been back at it thus far in July. You can find those blogs - - - > here & - - - > here. If you're a pictures person the first blog may interest you more as it is brimming with photos of our time in California.

Today will be a busy day for the Zeiglers. Up first on the agenda is a trek to the kids' school to get them registered for the upcoming school year. Reagan will be a third grader, & Henry will be a kindergartner. Other interesting stops on today's list include dropping off a ton of stuff at a local thrift store, buying more dog food, & chauffeuring Reagan to her piano lesson. 

As last week unfolded I was forced to confront my total dependence on modern conveniences. This manifested itself most obviously when, on Tuesday of last week, the air conditioner in our home quit on us. As I was drinking the morning's second cup of coffee I realized I was overly warm. I am almost never warm in the house, especially in my bedroom which, for reasons having to do with airflow that I don't totally understand, is usually the coldest room in the house. Even during the hot heat of July I like to sit in bed in long pants & a long-sleeved shirt & drink my morning coffee. Between my low blood pressure & my cold bedroom, I'm able to snuggle in bed with my hot coffee even when it's blazing outside. I note that we usually keep our thermostat on seventy-three, so I'm not turning it down to sixty-five in order to make my coffee-snuggling dreams come true. 

I was unable to snuggle & drink my coffee Tuesday morning, & when I got out of bed & trudged to the thermostat I saw why. It was eighty degrees & climbing in the house. Long story long, about six hours later the situation was resolved, though not before the temp in the house climbed to eighty-five degrees. The kids were not happy, to say the least. They whined a lot. We did have the option of heading to my mom's house, but then Trey called & said the heroic, wonderful repair man could service the air conditioner that very day, so I needed to hang around while he worked amidst the whining kids & barking dogs. 

In addition to the air conditioner quitting on us Tuesday, I am still reading the second book in Francine Rivers's Mark of the Lion series (An Echo in the Darkness is Book II), & it's a constant reminder that even the wealthiest in Rome at the height of Rome's rule didn't live as luxuriously as most of us do today. They obviously didn't have air conditioning. They didn't have electricity, or cars, or knowledge of or access to modern medicine. One of the main characters in Book II is a doctor, & it's somewhat comical & also sad to read accounts of his attempts to help his patients. Naturally I think of Reagan from time to time as I read. It's only been about a hundred years since insulin was discovered, isolated, & administered effectively to lower blood sugar. I'm thankful we are all here, now, in 2019, when insulin is available & can be supplied constantly via a pump. It's all truly amazing when you consider none of that was possible just a hundred years ago. 

I follow an account on Twitter (one of the few that makes spending time on that website interesting & worthwhile) called Human Progress (you can find it here: @HumanProgress). I highly recommend you follow this account if you're on Twitter. Amidst the madness that so often pervades that site I'll run across a post from Human Progress reminding me of the countless ways it's a great time to be alive. Everything they share is positive. Click here to peruse just one example of the content they share. They are champions of modernity & capitalism. They often share content that explains in detail how capitalism has & continues to lift millions out of poverty. They champion vaccines. You know I don't shy away from an argument, but two things I will not waste much time or energy debating are capitalism & vaccines; it's a YES for me on both counts. Anyone who argues otherwise is not a serious person. 

I can't imagine not having vaccines at the ready for my kids, hoping & praying they won't contract polio or some other life-altering & possibly life-ending disease. I can't imagine living without an air conditioner. We went five or six hours without one on Tuesday, & it was horrible. I was sweating constantly. If you've never been to Louisiana in July, well, I don't recommend it. It's so hot & so incredibly, disgustingly humid. I hate to sweat. Actually, if I'm exercising I don't mind sweating so long as I can return to my cool home & shower. What I hate is to sit down to read & sweat, or get up to get a glass of water & sweat.

I thought about the Romans a lot on Tuesday. I was literally trying to read my book, & I had to quit because I was so distracted by the heat. That's how most of humanity throughout history lived their entire lives. That's how my grandparents lived much of their lives. I cannot imagine. When I am tempted to complain (& I admit that happens fairly frequently) I am going to try & remember how it felt to sit in my home & be so hot & miserable due to a broken AC that I couldn't read. I guess this is similar to my practice of recalling birthing Henry whenever I *think* I am in pain. You probably don't remember this from my riveting account of Henry's birth, but when Henry was born I was dilated to seven or eight by the time I got my epidural. I had "back labor," & it came rapidly & was intense & horrible. Anyway, it left an impression on me in the same way Tuesday's sweat fest left an impression on me. 

I have one more small tidbit to share, & then I've got to run & begin the day's errands. I am about to finish An Echo in the Darkness, as I mentioned, but I'm also reading a second book at the moment. The book club's July book is . . . wait for it . . . Twilight. A handful of our members had never read it, so we put it on the list for this year. 

I'm a few chapters in, &, no doubt in part due to my recent day without air conditioning & the fact that we're in the middle of July right now, I am reminded that one thing I love about the book is that it is set in Forks, Washington. Sometimes setting isn't all that crucial to a novel, but I love it when it is. I purposefully set Dear Miss Moreau in Colorado because I wanted snow. I wanted it to be cold. I love the cold.

Reading the opening chapters of Twilight is relaxing to me in part because I love the setting. Bella arrives in Forks just as the cool of fall is giving way to the cold of winter. It snows briefly on one of Bella's first days of school in Forks. In her head Bella is constantly contrasting the rain & cloud cover in Forks with sunny Phoenix where she lived with her mother until her move to north. She doesn't care for the weather in Forks, even bemoaning the snow, but I love it. Maybe next week we'll discuss the fact that Edward is, like the weather in Forks, cold. We can psychoanalyze both me & Bella. 

On Wednesday of this week it's likely to be sweltering outside regardless of where you live (so far as I know no one in Australia reads this blog). At some point during your day if you find yourself inside & cool & comfortable despite the soaring temps outside, stop & say Thank You to Mr. Willis Carrier who completed drawings for the world's first air conditioning system on July 17, 1902. Trey has always said Mr. Carrier ought to have his own national holiday, & I agree. It ought to be in July as that would only be appropriate. 

We all have a few gripes about the ways time changes things, & many of these are valid complaints worth pondering. Time has also brought us many things most of us would not want to live without (& in some cases could not live without) such as air conditioning & insulin. Last Tuesday as I wondered around the hot house I passed the bookshelf where I keep most of my Jane Austen novels. I am one who has in times past lauded the simpler life Jane Austen lived, the values reflected in her novels. There are things to envy about the world in which Jane Austen lived, & similarly there is much to envy about the simple lives her characters live, but Jane Austen lived a relatively short life due to illness that perhaps could've been treated today. There are no diabetic characters in Jane Austen's novels as they would not have survived long past the onset of their disease. Yes, we are distracted daily by a cacophony of technology Jane Austen never knew, & it no doubt changes us in some undesirable ways, but we're living longer lives, & we're not drenched in sweat all the time, & these are reasons to celebrate. 

I hope you have a wonderful week. I guess there's really no other way to end this than to say, Stay cool. I know, I know; I hate me too.

No comments:

Post a Comment