This weekend my husband and I pulled together some information to send to a local Civil War expert we had met In May and who had offered to look into two of my great-great-grandfathers who I believe were Union soldiers. This morning, using all the data we have collected, I constructed a lengthy email, proofed, proofed and proofed again, then hit “Send”. Immediately I heard the iPhone sound of a motorcycle, signifying I had received a new email message and also representing my lifelong desire to have a Harley and knowing the arrival of messages is as close as I will ever get. I checked my inbox and there was a notification that the address I had used was not valid. All the time it took to research and organize the data, at long last ready to send, then BOOM! SISTER RAIN, WE ARE A NO GO.
In olden days, up until my 20s, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I would have put everything in an envelope and mailed via the U.S. Postal Service. It would have taken weeks for the undeliverable package to be returned to me marked “RETURN TO SENDER INVALID ADDRESS”. There are many who claim that we are a society hooked on instant gratification: we want it and we want it now. I would agree with this statement in general and also cop to it from a personal standpoint. Although losing one’s eyesight can be the ultimate lesson in patience and I am definitely a student in this master class. But back to my point: What no one talks about is that we are also a culture of immediate disappointment. We now receive bad news as quickly as the good. Where we once were just getting a solid grip on hope we now are informed right away that we didn’t get the job, sell the novel we have written, get into the college of our choice, hear back from the match we have messaged on a dating site.
Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to go back to a time where anticipation was part of the process of throwing something out into the universe and waiting to see if it sticks. Of course then the good stuff wouldn’t arrive so quickly in our hands, but neither would the bad. And I, for one, would live with a delay in receiving the good stuff in exchange for having some time between the bad.
But no matter how quickly or slowly we receive it, good and bad go together in this life. Unlike my email and its intended recipient.