Tonawanda News

May 17, 2013

ADAMCZYK: The rewards of the modern age

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Ever been overwhelmed?

Of course you have. Not all of us have the luxury of pondering the nature of time, but that’s what I was up to the other day when I should have been doing something else.

It was prompted by a tattered newspaper clipping from 20 or so years ago I found in a box full of old credit card invoices (a souvenir of where my money went), in which a man explained how he jammed so much into his available hours. (Writer, college professor, reader when he’s standing in line, etc. No word on how his children, if any, turned out.) Clearly, this guy was never bored, and evidently had a homemade schedule for his life and career free from a lot of bosses, influencers and other people to whom to answer.

Always Do Something. It sounds like a professional motivator’s pitch; its acronym could be the Ladies’ Home Journal’s disease of the month.

Some of us always Do Something. The valleys in my couch, the one aimed at the television, are reminders I’m always doing something (watching hockey, watching CNN, watching “Futurama”), and when I’m not Doing Something I’m wishing I was Doing Something.

Some of us are regularly complimented on the busy schedule we set for ourselves. Not how smart or handsome or astute I am, just how busy. Well, I am pleased as hell I have survived to this point in the 21st century, pleased I lived through (blare of trumpets) the computer revolution, and adequately astute to note how much, in the past reserved for the rich or connected, is available to me. Thus it is a shame if I do not reap as many advantages as I can.

Consider the Internet, and its instantaneous, more or less, call up of information, merchandise, sandwiches, pornography, commentary on current events, games, conversation and the like. One need not be Abe Simpson to remember walking miles, or waiting hours or days, to obtain all that stuff.

So we overload our schedules because we can, because we should. Which brings me to my newest role model; it used to be Theodore Roosevelt. Then it was Groucho Marx. These days it’s the Ken-Ton mom with two or three kids and one minivan (spouse optional), the one whose to-do list is always pages long. If something slows her down she simply makes the list longer.

A football coach named Dick Vermeil, so the story goes, lined out everything to be done on a yellow pad of paper, and left at the end of the workday when everything was crossed off the list. His wife joked the happiest day of his life was the one when he discovered those yellow pads come in oversize lengths.

Ever feel like your list is That Long? If so, you’re doing it correctly.

Back to Ken-Ton mom and her powers. She can travel faster, and eat better food, than Henry VIII (and he ran England). She can access better health information, just by turning on the television, than Olympic athletes could a generation ago. Manage her financial affairs better than John D. Rockefeller.

If her home’s lawn looks a bit raggedy, it’s because she’s raising men and women and not grass, but there’s a quick cure for that suburban malady as well. If her chosen vocation includes that long list of proficiencies you read on Mother’s Day cards (chef, chauffer, chief medical officer, etc.), it’s because she can.

Certain words have had their meanings altered, over time. “Impossible” can now mean the starting point for change. It’s been a long time since I heard anyone under the age of 30 say “impossible.” I suppose “panic” is another. People tend not to panic these days; they hurry to the telephone or the computer for solutions, instead of hand-wringing, bemoaning their fate or waiting for a situation to get worse.

We have become, ironically through civilizing influences, as all-purpose as those westward-ho pioneers we allegedly admire. Yes, we often “call the guy” to fix whatever’s gone wrong, yet we have the wherewithal to learn, then apply, whatever we think we need to learn.

The cap of my beer is off to you, 21st century Ken-Ton mom with kids and a minivan. Damn, you’re resourceful, even if motherhood, even if life, is a zero-sum game. You hear things like “I don’t know how she does it” and run with like-minded people who baffle those of us who don’t know how they do it.

They do it because they can, because they live in an expansive world and have honed their practice of getting around obstacles. Loading the hours of the day is their standard practice, and the sooner we non-moms learn some of these techniques the better we will be. 

Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears Fridays in the Tonawanda News. Contact him at EdinKenmore@gmail.com.

Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears Fridays in the Tonawanda News. Contact him at EdinKenmore@gmail.com.