Everyday on my way to and from Meg's school I pass by Concordia College. It is anchored by a beautiful old building and surrounded by incredible mature trees. I went to school here almost 20 years ago. I never walk by without being captivated by the youthful vitatlity that kind of oozes from the old bones of this historic building and the charming exuberance that is characterized by the students laughing, studying and cavorting on the front lawn. The other day on my way to pick Meg up from school I saw something that still amazes me...
Even 10 years ago this sight would not have been so mundane. Hell, I still don't find it mundane. I thought it remarkable enough that I couldn't stop thinking about it and asked if I could take her picture as I passed by on the way home.
This tree has easily outlived the person that planted it many decades before. It has massive, sprawling branches that have given shade to many a student on a hot, sunny day. When I went to school here I sat with my back against that gnarled old tree trunk listening to Sonata No. 11 on my big, yellow, Sony Sports Walkman.
My friend, Chris, is writing a musical called "St. Aggie's 84". It's about an all girls private school and is set in 1984. Around the time that Sony Sports Walkman was all the rage. For the last few months he has been completely immersed in the 80s. As well as writing this musical he has also recorded an album for release in June that is about 50 percent 80s cover songs. Needless to say this has led to a lot of refelction about how our world has evolved since then. Or more specifically the contrast between what we thought the year 2010 would look like and what has actually come to pass. We thought that the future was in artificial intelligence, robotics and space travel. And to some extent all of those things have made advances but the dark horse of the technological race has been in telecommunications and wireless devices. Making the above scene just part of the landscape.
My 6 year old thinks nothing of this sight. For her "google" is a verb that has always been a part of her vocabulary. She can't understand that there was ever a time when the world wasn't at our fingertips. I find myself talking about encyclopedias and having to go to the library to study like my grandparents did about their horse and cart transport to school.
Every day I wake up and the first thing I do after kissing my sleeping baby on the head is reach for my IPhone to check the days weather forecast. I mentally prepare three outfits. I can't resist checking my email and facebook while I am at it. All this before I roll out of bed. This is only the start of a day in which I am completely connected without tether to almost anything in the world. And at night I often end the day as I am today. My laptop perched on the bed, me under the covers crosslegged and cozy, tapping away at my keyboard. And yet I am still jarred (and amazed) by the image of a young woman researching a term paper, composing an email or doing her online banking under the shade of a gnarled old tree.