【THE CASUALTIES OF CIVILIZATION·都是文明惹得“祸”】
My twenties were so lacking in 1)creature comforts that I could have been in a 2)Dickens novel. What a “3)bedraggled 4)waif” I was, living in a 6)grimy New York City apartment with no dishwasher, no air conditioner and no 5)on-site laundry facilities. Like most Manhattanites, I didn’t have a car, nor did I have a television set. In those days I was indulged in 7)Ibsen plays and I was incredibly 8)pretentious and I was the kind of person who spent all evening—often, alas, at the 9)Laundromat—reading Ibsen plays. That was how I spent my days and those days are over. Now, I have an array of household conveniences. Instead of dragging my laundry along block after block of 10)filthy sidewalks, I can take my clothes directly off my body and deposit them into my very own w ashing machine (and then, in a magnificent 11)coda, my very own dryer). I also have a dishwasher, a cell phone, wireless Internet and satellite cable service that’s so advanced that accidentally sitting on the remote can cause entire air traffic control systems to reset. And the Internet gives me the opportunity to live a life without Dickens and Ibsen. I can embrace a more colorful life just by one click.
It sounds like the days in heaven. But I couldn’t help but wonder: Is this how we are supposed to lead our life?
The other day, I read a column arguing the point that young people spend so much of their time indoors that they are deprived of the chance to catch frogs or throw rocks at 12)wasp nests. The writer says when he was a kid, being 13)cooped up inside was called “14)juvenile 15)detention”; now it’s called “leisure.” Actually, in an era where a 16)stray 17)gripe about your boss can 18)land you on an industry blog, where waking up 19)hungover can 20)frantically send you to 21)Facebook to untag your name from photos of the previous night’s 22)frosting-wrestling contest, where shots of you in 23)unflattering jeans become part of your permanent Google search results, “off the keyboard” means being deprived of the right of “leisure.”
Part of what’s so 24)perverse about people nowadays is that we are not allowed to have a normal life. Who has made us more and more reliant on the modern devices? Unfortunately, we put ourselves into that hot seat. Just because those modern devices have brought us more convenience than we had thought doesn’t mean we are supposed to convince ourselves that we’ll die without them. In a telephone survey of 1,003 people conducted recently, 35% said a dishwasher was a necessity, and 83% said a clothes dryer was a necessity. Acquiring things we don’t need and then coming to rely on them as though they were as essential as air and water isn’t just about affluence, it’s about being a 25)moron. Believe it or not, it’s something that makes us who we are. Physical, even mental, attachment to the modern conveniences puts us into a dangerous position: we would not do anything in the absence of them. And it is sad that we thought we were using modern conveniences to make our life better. Instead we fail to realize that we are lost in these modern conveniences. We might even forget the color of the sky, the smell of the rain.
It’s time to 26)pry yourself and your family off the modern “necessity”. In the same way that you recharge your 27)BlackBerry from time to time, you also should recharge your soul—by spending part of your time disconnected from the modern “necessity” and reconnected with the universe. Spend seven days without the Web and 28)NBC or 29)CBS. Read Ibsen and Dickens before bedtime. Follow 30)Robert Frost and take the path less traveled, for that makes all the difference.