Daze of My Life: Remote, Universally
Daze of My Life
I'm at a funny age, somewhere between accomplishment and retirement/entitlement. And though I truly believe I have plenty of good years ahead, it's the years I've left behind that concern me more. It seems like the tools I've used to reach this point in my life might not be the tools I'll need to reach the next points in my life. Specifically, I'm referring to technology, past and present versus future. As a few examples: utilizing a solar-powered calculator instead of pencil and paper and one's actual brain; replacing an eight-track tape player with a CD player and then replacing the CD with the upgraded benefits of a DVD; scrapping the VCR for the enhancements offered through TiVO/DVR; communicating via cell phone rather than with a cordless land line (and not having to be within 500 feet of its base); and switching to cable/digital/HD television and saying good-bye to antennas/rabbit ears (with or without the aluminum foil), among many others too numerous to mention but familiar to most.
These sorts of improvements, this kind of progress, I could handle; it seemed to follow in some sort of line with what had preceded it. Mentally, conceptually, even literally, I was able to connect the dots, so to speak and follow the progression of change. Things sort of built upon the hands-on experiences and instincts I had accumulated over time, those formative Wonder Bread-years where one sort of understands and appreciates a bit of what's going on and much of what has already gone on.
But now, the technology changes so quickly that some of the improvements seem not to be grounded in, or even based upon, the previously accepted technology of the day. It's like having to learn a new language/verbal means of communication when the previous language offered few familiar elements that were compatible; like going from English to Chinese to Navajo to Bushmen to signing for the hearing impaired. Other than them all being means if communication, it's not as if knowing something about one will help too much with the other. Your experiences will only clarify all that you don't know rather than some of what you might know. This is exactly how I feel about the technological revolution that is likely passing me by.
All my learning instincts (and many of my life's experiences) seem unsuitable for the environment in which I must now thrive in order to survive - or else. It sometimes feels like an episode of "Star Trek, Next Generation;" where I'm stuck in a recurring time loop and can only succeed up to the point where I've already succeeded (something to do with the time-space continuum). It's sort of an upgraded "Peter Principle" for the 21st century. I feel like I've reached a point in my life where I've become successful but unfortunately for me, the kind of success I've had (and am having) does not make for a successful transition to the next level. It's as if I'm a victim of my own successful circumstances.
I can only do what I know how to do. But continuing to do that might not get me to the promised-to-no-one land. To succeed more, going forward, is going to require doing things with which I've had little success doing. I suppose I don't have to totally undue, I just have to find a way to redo, and redo in a way in which I've never done before; specifically using/embracing technological tools of the future trade, tools with which I have few instincts, limited experience, minimal aptitude and zero patience. And yet, if I don't embrace this new math, you can count me out, literally and figuratively. But I'm too young to be counted out. So either I change for the better or not change for the worse.
Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.