A Simpler Time
We are all just too darn busy. This topic has been on my mind a lot lately, so the timing of this assignment seems a bit serendipitous. What struck me when I first looked at this photo was how significantly life has changed in the past 100 years, and what a crazy world we live in today. How complicated things have become!
It’s hard to remember a time where there were no cell phones, no Facebook pages and no text messages. Today we read books on electronic devices, keep our to-do lists on iPhone apps and shop for groceries online. And while I can’t imagine living in a world without some of these modern conveniences, I long for a time where people actually spoke to one and other, wrote letters and enjoyed nice long meals with fine wine and good conversation (as opposed to eating hunched over the kitchen counter before dashing out the door.)
I am a wife, mother of two young children, part-time employee, board member, volunteer, friend, sister, cook, CEO of my home… you get the picture. And what it feels like lately is that our family is overscheduled – running from point A to point B but not really appreciating the moment. This photo reminds us of what life used to be like…it was a simpler time.
It is spring 1918, the flowers are starting to bloom and the days are getting longer. Woodrow Wilson is president, and the Spanish Flu is reaching pandemic status. The Adams family is one of the most prominent in Boston. Henry and Elizabeth Adams have five daughters, Louise, Margaret, Catherine, Mary and Cecelia.
At 20 years old, Louise is the eldest daughter. She is a smart young woman and spends most of her days reading. There is a lot of pressure for her to marry, although no suitor has come along yet that she has found to be an intellectual match. Margaret is the second eldest and is the true beauty in the family. At 18 she will have her pick when it comes to her future husband. She has a sweet spirit but can also come across as a bit arrogant. Catherine is 15 and has a true adventurous nature. She is happiest riding her horses or exploring the estate. Mary, who is 13, has always been a wild card and gives Henry and Elizabeth the most worry. Although she does not have a devious heart, she often winds up in a great deal of trouble. And then there is sweet Cecelia, the baby in the family at age 10. She looks up to her big sisters and is struggling to find where she fits in the family dynamic.
Life for the Adams girls is quite charmed. They attend school, visit with their friends and enjoy spending time on their beautiful estate. But they also have many of the same concerns and worries as modern day young women. They feel societal pressure and burdens from family. They are trying to find their identity and where they fit in the world, as well as in their home. They are trying to find love. They feel they must keep up appearances. They are learning that money and status will not solve all problems.
Any of this sound familiar? So, although in 1918 it was a different time without as many obligations and commitments, and with a little less transparency, we realize that not that much has really changed in terms of the pressures and demands on women today.
The take away is this…we might think we long for the old days when people sat on porches, drank iced tea and watched the storms roll in from the horizon. But what really makes good sense is to embrace the technology and tools we have available today, but try not to be a slave to them. And learn to say no! Just like the Adams sisters, we are all trying to find our purpose and our voice. But we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves. Women are incredibly strong creatures and we can learn a lot from those who have gone before us.