I stayed at a hotel in Dallas (the same one shown in the opening credits of innumerable episodes of Dallas, a 40-year-old TV show) and looking out my window could easily see the layers of Change.
The Gothic-fonted Dallas Morning News building (147 years old), next to the WFAA radio station (100 years old, and the FAA stands for “For All Always”), next to the white stone Dallas Union Station (106 years old), with rails in the foreground.
At night the same scene was overtaken by the Omni Hotel (11 years old) which shimmers and changes like a 3D television and numerous neon skyscrapers (18-25 years old). I pulled out my phone, Googled (23 years old) the history of each building (because it is so easy!) ordered a Lyft (10 years old) that met us at the door), which took us to a bar inside a 100-year-old building with QR codes (28 years old) to order our food (fusion food, of course, 34 years old).
We got back to the hotel and saw the sign, “We are a cash-free environment.”
Since I had the time (Libby is part of the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Competition (17 years old, which used to be called a pageant), I sat by the pool, ordered a beer (aluminum bottle, 23 years old) off the QR code printed next to my lounge chair and thought about Change.
Is change changier than it used to be?
Yes and no.
Imagine standing underneath one of the wind turbines (about 20 years old in South Dakota), and you can understand change. You wouldn’t think it, but the tips of the blades travel around 180 mph, fast! Something you can sense if you stand underneath them.
At the tip of the blade:
…Is Technology. As we become more interconnected, the rate of change continues to accelerate. One year of change is happening faster and faster. Twenty years from now, one year of change will happen in three months; in 50 years, one year of change will happen in 11 days! It is calculated that in the 100-year span of the 21st century, we will experience 20,000 years of change!!
…Is Society. Because we are linked as a society through technology, fashions, fads and ideals are changing faster than they ever have before. When I was a kid, Wake Up Little Suzy was banned on many radio stations for its racy lyrics about a boy and girl falling asleep at a drive-in movie.
“What are we gonna tell your Momma?
What are we gonna tell your Pop?
What are we gonna tell friends when they say oo, la la?”
In 2021, the song WAP was named hip hop song of the year. It was not banned, because it can’t be. It is available though the internet to anyone who has a phone. If you’ve heard the song, you know the tremendous societal change I’m talking about, if you haven’t heard the song…brace yourself!
Is this making you feel a little dizzy? Like things are a little out of control? Alvin Toffler called this feeling “Future Shock” in 1970—over fifty years ago. All of us feel this to some extent. Many of the teenaged contestants at the pagean…uh, competition, talked openly about the anxiety and stress of being a teenaged person in a digital world.
Closer to the center of the spinning blades are:
…Relationships. Work, home or friends, the need for relationships is part of what we are. When we connect the way we have for thousands of years, face-to-face through conversation and touch, we become calmer. When we use technology, we become removed and disoriented. It doesn’t work as well, and we feel it.
Closer yet is:
…Biology. We still move to sunrise, sunset, seasons of the year and seasons of life. As we age, we follow the same sedate and inevitable course of all mortal beings. In the first quarter of life, we seek purpose. In the second quarter of life, we seek relationships. In the third quarter of life, we seek significance. And in the fourth quarter of life, we seek honor. So it always has been, so it ever more will be. It’s not easy, it never has been, but that’s what makes it fun.
And at the very center is:
…God. No matter how fast the blades spin, at the center is God. I am not a Christian speaker, writer or storyteller. But I am a speaker, writer and storyteller who happens to be Christian. And when I find myself getting a little dizzy or future-shocked, it’s good to know Who’s at the Center.
What can I do when I am future-shocked?
I follow a couple of routines that may help you as well.
1. Read about the world for about an hour: Spend an hour a day trying to catch up on what is happening in the world as it affects you. A habit of life-long learning keeps your mind agile and curious.
2. Mind your relationships: Face-to-face conversations with your small group of friends and family keeps your focus away from yourself, and stave off selfishness, loneliness and anxiety.
3. Get your sleep: Like my Mom said, “Nothing good happens after 10 pm.” She was right—Netflix and Facebook can wait (especially if you lock them out of your bedroom).
4. Exercise every day: Nothing calms your inner self like a little exercise. Get the blood pumping for an hour or so. Afterwards you’ll feel as calm as a mountain-top yogi.
5. Spend time with yourself: No noise, no nothing. Just you, thinking. Like a hurdler imagining the race, slow down and imagine the day ahead of you. No wasted steps, just you—calm and serene in a whirlwind of change.
6. Spend time with God: I mean if you believe in a Creator, doesn’t it make sense to ask Him why you are here in the first place? What is your purpose or passion?
As I look at this list, I think I have it in reverse order 😉
Does this (email, 50 years old) help you? If it does let me know. If you think it would help someone you know, pass it on. I also do a podcast (22 years old) once a week. You can find it on Apple Podcasts (17 years old), Spotify (16 years old), or wherever you find your favorite podcasts. It’s called I Like That Story (4 years old), and you may like it 😀 . Until we meet…
Jeff (61 years old)