Are we really reaching out...enough?
Wednesday 18 April 2012
It happens to everyone from the moment of our birth to our last breath.
We crawl then walk and grow some hair
We get some teeth
We go to fat
Or get too thin
And Father Time is closing in
We lose some teeth
And perhaps our hair
If this is change it isn’t fair!
It doesn’t necessarily pounce on us – change - it tends to creep up from behind; whereupon we either embrace it (once we turn ourselves around) or we let it strangle us with its strangeness.
I do both. I embrace; I am strangled.
I LOVE the change in THINGS - as in technology that makes life better, faster, easier, smarter: I LOATHE the change in society that makes the individual, sadder and lonelier.
It’s often said that elderly people don’t cope very well with change but personally I think it’s more to do with one’s circumstances than one’s age.
It’s so much easier to embrace change of any sort when you’re in a secure and loving environment…where you feel relevant…perhaps in an extended family or small community.
But what of the individual isolated in a big city? A single mum or dad perhaps struggling with limited resources; an elderly person living on his own, a young student with family far away?
Perhaps I’m talking as a country girl who grew up in a town where everyone knew everyone else. Knew everyone else’s business too…but that came with the territory. At least you knew your neighbours, shop assistants, sporting heroes, professionals, business-men/women…all one big, if not entirely happy, family.
I often think about the changes that I’ve had to face in my 72 years:
When I was a kid, milk came straight from the cow…or we left out a billycan for the Milkman. The Baker arrived at the door each morning carrying a huge wicker basket full of enticing smells of the varieties just baked; not a plastic wrapper in sight. Old Mr Singh the Indian Hawker pulled up in his huge horse-drawn covered wagon once every two months to tempt Mum with his supply of saucepans and tinkerish things and Mr Hill the Iceman cometh faithfully each day to fill our Ice-box with a huge block of ice (and chip off a little corner with his ice-pick as a treat for us kids).
Our old Buick took eight hours to reach Melbourne from Swan Hill – a journey that anyone in a half decent vehicle can do today in less than half the time and the train wasn’t all that much faster.
Of course there was no TV, so Reading was my choice of entertainment along with kicking the footy in the street, gathering wild Asparagus from the banks of the channel and playing sport. Every single thing on my shopping list after school was bought from a different shop in the Main Street and the reward was a full-to-the-brim milkshake in a huge metal container. What’s more it was paid in shillings and pence not dollars and cents.
YOU could swim for miles not kilometres and grow in inches not centimetres.
There were wirelesses - not radios, clunky old typewriters – not computers, telephones with cords and a voice asking for the number you required – not iPhones.
These were glorious days of freedom in a country town where you could roam at will on your bike - never needing for a moment to be warned of ‘dangerous strangers’.
A safe and happy environment, indeed.
But now in a big city, I am blessed to have four children who care about me, teach me, at times tolerate me and sometimes let me win. Embracing and accepting change is exciting and easy for me.
Is it that elderly people fear change, stubbornly resist it and don’t want to discard the familiar? Or is that they don’t know HOW to embrace it. Do they have a patient visitor to show them how to use a computer or a TV remote?
Is it that isolated, lonely people fear change and reject it or can they not afford to do anything about it and lack the knowledge to try?
How many people like that do we know in our cities?
Are we really reaching out to help them cope with change?
Are we really reaching out?