The Dude has been mentioning my lack of awareness to visual details. For instance, there is a new house in the neighborhood, and I said, “Huh, that house looks new.” He was flabbergasted, because they had been building it and working on it since we moved in, and I didn’t notice. I have been thinking about why this happens to me. One part is definitely having other things on my mind. We moved in and I took exams that week, then had to unpack, plan a new class, teach the class, write my dissertation proposal, take a class, and set the boys up to homeschool.

However, I think there is something else, and that is what I want to talk about today.

Change. We moved to a new place, and now I have to learn new things. As a graduate student, I am constantly learning new things anyway. Now I am done with my courses, but I am learning how to teach. How to organize a classroom. I had to create a rubric mid semester, because I realized that it is the best way for me to grade subjectively. But learning to use a rubric and set up grades on a rubric has been a bit of an exercise in frustration.

I am living in a new town. I now have to create new driving patterns, learn new grocery store layouts, learn to talk to different people about different things. There are new schools to navigate, doctors to meet, and hair dressers to find. The house itself is different. The walk from the bedroom to the kitchen is new, light switches are at different places, sun comes in at different angles. The wall color is different, having a fireplace is new, and I have new places to put my clothes (my very own walk in closet with shelves and a separate shared closet with a hanging bar. 🙂 ).

I have moved often, so I know the drill. We lived in our last place (in a new town) for 3 years. Before that, we were in one area (more or less) for 7 years, but during that time we lived in 4 houses in and 3 towns! But adding graduate school work onto kid schedules and new navigations has been a bit much, I guess. So now I only register what is needed, and the other stuff is sitting and waiting to be discovered when I open my eyes to it. This includes houses, trees, stores, anything but what is absolutely necessary.

My larger point is this: humans as a species deal with more change than, I would argue, ever before in history. Before the Industrial Revolution, for the most part, a person could anticipate a steady life. They would live in a small radius, marry from families they knew, know their job options, keep the same job, have the same friends, travel almost nowhere, and use the same equipment their entire lives. Nomadic tribes obviously traveled, but roles and jobs were still durable, and the types of housing set ups stayed the same.

Compare that to now. Suburban homes that were built in the 1950s have been torn down to allow new development.

Entire new subdivisions and even towns can pop up like nothing. Don’t like your shopping choices? Wait a couple of years, and there will be some new options to choose from.

Let’s go inside the home. Look around your kitchen. How many appliances did not exist 50 years ago? 20? You got your Foreman grill, your juicer, your VitaMix and your Magic Bullet. Television has morphed from one large box that sits in the front room hosting 3 channels to something watched on demand through a telephone. Not only that, we can now make our own content and send it around the world instantly.

This type of presentation alone was unthinkable 50 years ago, never mind the product he is shilling!

The way we interact, the types and quantity of entertainment, and the information available to us today is unbelievable. We now have to remember to look at several different sites to get out news, and we have to know password upon password-Don’t use the same one! Change them often!
We now do not have longterm certainty about where we will live, what job we will do, who will we marry, what types of things we will buy or where we will shop for them.

So, what I am wondering is how much of the problems we see in our society: depression, anxiety, loneliness, Alzheimer’s, substance abuse-how many of these problems are brought not by the current state of our world, but by the rate of change humans must endure?

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