Day 99: The next best thing

When your BFFs live close by, you can be there for each other for life events. When you live far away, technology helps. Years ago, when we moved to Brazil for a few years, email was our method of communication. The internet was rather new, and cell phones were the size of a man’s shoe. Email kept us sane when we needed to connect.

Today, FaceTime really helps. My friend recently moved into a new house, and she gave me a tour via FaceTime. It’s almost like being there. I could see her new design choices and take in the excitement written all over her face. It was fun to share in that moment, even 9 hours away, and I was really thankful for technology. It made me remember something.

As I grew, my family used to take long vacations each summer and we’d explore parks and museums, and other points of interest. I remember one trip through Springfield, IL, our state capital. It’s where Abraham Lincoln was a young lawyer, and where he’s buried. There’s a historic village nearby, and of course, the capitol building to tour.

One of the tiny museums that left a big imprint on me is what is now called the Oliver P Parks Telephone Museum. It’s probably as tiny as my kitchen and you can walk through it in about 15 minutes. I think when I was a kid it was called Alexander Bell Telephone Museum or maybe the AT&T Museum. You might remember that up until the early 70s, Bell Systems was the only telephone provider and that AT&T monopoly got broken up in 1974.

Back in my early years, the telephone was still connected to the wall by a cord. Most of the telephones in the museum, then, were those used by old switchboards, black and heavy. Some were “current” telephones that were the push button kind, even though we had a dial phone for part of those early years. Seeing the new-fangled contraptions was like drooling over today’s latest smart phones when you still own a flip phone.

One of the last “phones” in the museum was the one I was mesmerized by…their idea of the phone of the future, where speakers would be able to see the person they were talking to, only the size of the “phone” was as big as an 1980s computer monitor. We thought it was the coolest thing. One of us would sit on one side of the wall and another was on the other side, and we could see each other through these modern marvels. We wondered if there would ever be a day when we could own a “seeing phone.”

Today, I wonder what year they pulled that exhibit down. Maybe it was when car phones came into existence? Or when mobile phones were as small as the size of a man’s shoe? I’m thankful we don’t have to carry around a computer monitor today in order to see what’s going on in our friends’ lives. I’d rather reach out and touch someone in person, and give them a big hug. Yet, when we’re miles apart, FaceTime (and other apps like it) is the next best thing to being there.

DAY 99 HOMEWORK: Is there someone you’re needing to connect with across the miles? Comb your hair, get out of your pajamas, and use our modern marvels to reconnect. They make our excuses a bit flimsy, so resolve to reach out and touch them. It really is the next best thing to being there.



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