Sunday, November 16, 2008

Life in Another Time

If you could live in any other decade, which would you choose?

I can think of many who would say the 60s were the coolest, what with all the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Others may say the 20s would have been the funnest. I know people who would choose some Victorian decade, but I couldn't stand those corsets and heavy petticoats.

I'm not very text-book smart when it comes to history, but I've read so many books set in so many different times, that I think I know a thing or two about times past. And believe it or not, I would choose to live in the 30s. Yep, I would zap myself right back in the middle of the Great Depression.

People were poor and hungry and struggling, and they were forced to lean on God and each other to get through it. Women spent their days working hard making quilts, hoeing in their gardens, cooking, canning, taking care of babies. Now I hate housework more than anything else in the world, so it's not the chores that attract me to the 30s. It's the comeradery. These women did much of their work together. They helped eachother take care of the kids and stitch the quilts and can the tomatoes.

My grandmother told me that as young mothers she and her sister would gather all the laundry and go out and build a fire to start the washing. One of them would wash while the other nursed the babies on her breast.

When she was a young girl in Tennessee in the 30s, her family would gather with other families on Saturday nights and play music together in someone's living room. Someone had a banjo, another had a fiddle. I'm sure there was a guitar, a Jew's harp and maybe a harmonica. They would dance and laugh and sing into the wee hours. It sounds more fun the watching TV any day.

They had barn-raisings in the 30s, where other families would pitch in and help build a barn for a family in a day. I think that is way cool. I wonder how many people would come over to my house this summer and help Jamie and me build a new deck.

Nowadays, we drive into our garages and never even have to see our neighbors if we choose not to. Thousands of us work in cubicles all day long and stare at a computer. Everyone is way too busy to even consider sitting around a quilting rack for days on end making something you can just run out to Target and buy.

But I feel like we are missing out on the kind of relationships that enriched the lives of those people living in the 30s. I think that hard times force us to depend on eachother and good times make us so independent that we can become lonely and not even realize it.

My friend Leah is an extreme introvert. She loves to go home from work on Fridays and close the blinds and hole up for the entire weekend. But she told me one day, "As much as I like to be left alone, I have to admit that every important moment in my life, every meaningful experience I've ever had, has been shared with another person."

Think of all the stories that have been told of people stranded together -- Swiss Family Robinson, The Breakfast Club, etc. These stories are written and enjoyed because they are intriguing. It's a sort of fantasy. Why, do you think?

We are created as a tribal people. It sounds corny, but I believe God made us to be communal. He did say the second most important commandment is to "Love your neighbor as yourself." It's hard to do that if you avoid people, or if your life is so full of to-dos that you have no time for true relationships. Maybe God commands us to love others for our own happiness as much as that of the receiver. Now there's a thought to ponder.

It's possible that our priorities have gotten out of whack in our generation, and we would be happier if we rearranged them a bit. It's also possible that we are headed for another Depression. If that happens, we will be poor, but we may be much richer in ways we never thought of.

Quilters can meet at my house!


chris&sara said...

Thanks for thinking about this stuff and actually writing it down! I always enjoy reading your thoughts because it makes me stop and reflect. P.S. Chris and I will help you build your deck! Chris has built two decks for us and he's really good at it. ~Sara Casey Taleff

Lori said...

Sara, You're awesome! We need to hang out!