Saturday, January 2, 2016

Wrong Century?

I know a woman who reads books, especially Victorian novels, for enjoyment during her retirement. She also says that, reading them, she believes she was born in the wrong century.

She apparently is supremely, blissfully unaware of the irony of that.

Shall I count the ways? Of course! Else what's a posting for?

Let's break it down. She's a woman. In this century, she has human rights. She is not her husband's, father's, or brother's property, but can in fact own property herself. She can leave the house she lives in without a chaperon. She gets medical care, can practice birth control, expects not only to survive childbirth but also to have those children survive childhood, uses antibiotics and anesthesia,  has never needed to worry about smallpox or plague, knows where to access relatively painless dental care and still has teeth. She was employed in a career of her choosing for most of her adult life. She did not have to work through her childhood.

She is retired. She has, firstly,  survived to this age and can anticipate many years ahead of her. She does not need to work somehow until the day she dies. She has at least a modest level of income to support herself with, has had the option of saving money through her working life to make these final years better. Her long life has included decent nutrition from a varied diet from all over the world: locavore is more an ethical choice than an absolute necessity. Her shelter includes comfort, entertainment, music and beauty as well as plumbing, sanitation, and energy. Her retirement residency occurs in a state she has chosen for its mild winter climate, and she has access to easy travel to other parts of her country and the world, including the choice to reside part time in a milder climate to avoid the hot summers found here.

She reads. Books, even. So at some point she was taught how, even taking that education for granted as a female, as was not possible a couple centuries ago. She has had access to literature throughout her life, of many kinds and forms of her own choosing. She has had the leisure time throughout her life to indulge in the luxury of reading for long enough periods to get through not one book but many. She has lived with the permission of her society to exercise her imagination and to value it, though it may never have contributed to her physical survival. All known information is available to her: she can study other geography, other organisms, other cultures, other philosophies, other religious beliefs, other ages, other planets, other galaxies, things both real and unreal.

What on this earth is there to justify feeling wistful about living a few centuries earlier?

Or to put it a bit more bluntly: WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?

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