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A THOUGHT FOR TODAY

Many things in the world have

already happened. You can

go back and tell about them.

They are part of what we

own as we speed along

through the white sky. 

But many things in the world

haven't yet happened. You help

them by thinking and writing and acting.

Where they begin, you greet them

or stop them. You come along

and sustain the new things.

(William Stafford, 1914 – 1993)

That which has taken place is fodder for my writing.  I don’t tend to write about what hasn’t happened yet. Sitting in judgment and writing about what has already gone before is an easier option for me; it’s settled, and I spin it.  

Those things which haven’t yet happened are more difficult to write about. Most of us don’t have the ‘vision thing’ of what they might be. I’ve decided Mr. Stafford’s poem gives me the justification I need to write about “no more cursive” — twice. It has happened, it is happening, and now what could be in the future for us all?  

“We’re all crazy; it’s not a competition.” Seeing this posted on Facebook by my friend Gary has pretty much saved the day. From breakfast till almost noon I guided my stream of consciousness through a lengthy saga about how kids don’t write cursive any longer. I hit the wrong button and the tale evaporated. I’ll blame the computer with its newfangled bells and whistles for the lost lore. The story is nowhere to be found. Although it might not be worth the time it takes to paraphrase it, here I go anyhow. Now that I know we’re all crazy, why not?

I’ve heard many young parents bemoan the fact that their kids are not learning cursive in school. What a shame. Keyboarding is king. Are we going in reverse rather than in forward? I had several female ancestors who signed their names with an X. Talk about losing one’s individuality. I wouldn’t want to be just another X. Might today’s young people need to revert to a sign in a few years?

With keyboarding everywhere, maybe one doesn’t need to learn to sign one’s name. Those of you of a certain age will remember the workbooks lined for perfection in practicing the correct way — to both print and write — including arrows to show you in which direction to commence and where to end. Monotonous and mind-numbing are not exaggerations. But our generation learned to write cursive.

While I was growing up, Mom encouraged me to learn to type.  “If anything happens to your husband, you can get a job.” Heck, I might have been a nuclear physicist but for that advice. I learned how to type on a gray manual typewriter in high school, because electrics hadn’t yet been invented.  My graduation present, in addition to a three-piece set of mottled beige Samsonite so I could leave home, was a manual Underwood which served me well through college. I was able to earn money typing other peoples’ papers (with many carbon copies). I left the machine with a Turkish friend in Morocco in the early 70s.  

After college graduation, I worked for a group of physicians — one of whom loved the red, self-correcting, new IBM electrics. Nice change. Years later, at some point when we were overseas, along came word processing, a euphemism of some kind. I believe somebody needs to type those words to make them process. Now with computers and myriad devices to make life easy, one doesn’t really need to type at all. My cousin with cerebral palsy has spoken into his computer for years, and the computer types the messages for him.  Now, one can even have a computer girlfriend. Have you seen the movie called “Her”?

As a master of worrying in advance, I’m thinking if Mother Nature or one of those axis of evil powers decides to mess up our cyber system and we lose our computer technology, what will we do? Return to the life of a previous century? Maybe even caves? Is it time to practice some line drawings of our lives? The whole world could disintegrate. And, some young among us wouldn’t even know how to write their names. Maybe they wouldn’t need to write. Told you I could worry.  

Recently on BBC news they aired special coverage of the National Archives exhibition of famous peoples’ signatures. From Picasso to Hitler, you can see how they signed their names. On my next trip into Washington, D.C. I’ll visit this Archives exhibit just to witness the individuality and strength employed in signatures from famous folk in earlier eras.  

According to the reporter, digital signatures are fine and even legal. However, you still have to know how to write.  I hope you’ll chew this over a bit and keep in mind that “We’re all crazy; it’s not a competition.”  Guess I’ve proven my point! Now, did I write about yesterday, today or tomorrow?

Sandra Brian Lore

Sandra Brian Lore had a typical small-town and suburban life outside Chicago — until she served for 32 years in the Foreign Service.

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