Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sometimes I Miss Waiting. Sometimes.

Everything these days is instant. Instant pudding. Instant pop popcorn. Instant messaging. Instant web shopping. Instant coffee. Instant downloads. Instant streaming. And a lot of that stuff is really, really cool.

After all, if any of you remember the days of making popcorn with one of those gigantic popcorn making machines that screeched out an ear-splitting windy hiss as it hurled out popcorn can today appreciate that "popcorn" button on your microwave.

Or you may even recall trekking out during a monster blizzard to your local Blockbuster to rent a movie...all so you could have a night at home out of the snow. So you literally go out in the snow to stay out of the snow. But today, you can now easily download your movie directly from Netflix with a couple button clicks all while in the warm, cozy environment of your new Snuggy.

But there are things for which I miss waiting. Like buying the latest CD by a favorite band. I can recall back in 1994 driving out to the local record shop at a quarter til midnight to get in line to buy the new Pearl Jam album during the shop's special midnight sale. There was an energy in the air; a conglomerate of young, grunge-loving music fans gathered in a coiling queue to be the first to get their hands on the CD.

And immediately after we made our way through the line and got our sweaty hands on the new CD, we rushed back home to pop the disc in and listen to it from start to finish, formulating our opinions in discussion over a few beers. It is a time in my life that is still lodged securely in my memory banks and that I look back on fondly.

Today, it is nearly impossible to have an event such as that. If an album doesn't already leak months before it's release, surely the live recordings of the band testing out the new material will find their way onto the web. And from there, you have thousands of people formulating opinions and reviewing the album long before you can peel the plastic wrapping off of the disc and inhale the first whiffs of plastic and fresh ink.

Or, even if the album does go unleaked, odds are the lot of us will point-and-click our transactions from iTunes, Amazon or other online megastore. No waiting. Just point, click, have.

Sure, this may sound more like a rant against technology and it's effect on society to induce individuals to live in isolation. But I assure you, that is not my point. I miss the waiting as much as I do the comradery of waiting with peers. It's a feeling of anticipation. A coming to grips with an urge to be impatient with an endurance that anticipates eventual reward. There is something very gratifying about those feelings.

After all, how much fun would sex be if the climax came first? Sure it would be kind of neat at first, but then there'd be all of that work afterwards.

Or how much better is an instant message filled with acronyms and abbreviated terminology than dialing up a friend, waiting through the rings and spending a half hour chatting?

And has instant coffee ever been better than the grinding up the beans fresh and brewing a fresh pot? I think not. (Forgive me if you are a Sanka-phile.)

Some things are just better when you have to wait for them. There's a great line in one of my favorite movies of all time, "Ferris Beuller's Day Off," that goes: "Life moves pretty fast sometimes. If you don't stop and look around every once in awhile, you could miss it."

Great words I still remember today because I didn't have the power to DVR the film and let it sit amongst my many other hundreds of instant entertainment options to go unnoticed or overrlooked.

And it's true. We should all stop and look around more often than we do.

So next time you're out shopping, skip past that aisle that has the pudding that is already made and packaged in little plastic cups. Go grab the ole' fashioned powdery stuff in the box and a gallon of milk (though technically called "instant pudding," the term "instant" on those boxes applies to the term as it was defined in 1953 which, considering today's standards, is incredibly non-instant). Go home and make it with somebody whom you love. Give it time to set in the fridge and have a few bites together. You'll be surprised how much sweeter things can taste when you have to wait a little while.