DIANE PHILLIPS: What in the world has happened to us?


Diane Phillips

I’VE often wondered if my parents had it a whole lot better than my generation and I think they did. We’ve never eaten more but felt less satisfied. We’ve never owned more but felt less complete. We’ve never had so much technology and so much information at our fingertips yet done so little to make the world safer. We’ve never worked longer but relaxed during time off less. We’ve never travelled more but arrived home less rested or changed by what we experienced.

What is the matter with us?

Are we the “too much” generation?

We’ve got everything we could ever ask for in many ways and things we don’t remember to ask for in others, like quiet moments without checking WhatsApp or the freedom to take a walk in the neighbourhood after dinner stopping to talk with a neighbour on their porch.

Have we just plain gotten too smug and self-contained for our own good? Too wrapped up in too much, too wound up to unwind and rewind.

Hard to believe, but I can actually look up that question – what has happened to us – and get all sorts of information and research on the happiest of generations and what caused it and get an answer (Baby Boomer parents) but it doesn’t improve the happiness quotient. What it does do, that is if I believe Investopedia and I have no reason not to – is confirm what I already suspected.

My parents and their parents had far less but they were the happiest generations of all. My mother was happy with her pink shirtwaist dress belted loosely at the waist to give credence to her fine figure and though my father once gave her one of those A-line skirts with a poodle painted on it or somehow affixed to it as was the style, she only wore it to please him.

She didn’t have to look at an influencer of a Kardashian to know who she was. Simple, tailored, freshly-laundered cotton was as good a cloth as anything ever invented. Fancy restaurants were for birthdays and anniversaries, though Sunday nights we all went to a favourite place for ribs that you could watch from outside spinning on the rotisserie through the plate glass window and even as a young child age five or six I was allowed to run out the restaurant door to stare at the ribs spinning while they cooked, run back in and wander around from table to table and talk to whoever would listen to me and pay attention to a way too talkative child.

I’m not being sentimental. I like having information at my fingertips and a laptop and desktop open at the same time while I work on two documents, this column on the desktop, another piece on the Surface. If I were stranded on a desert island, the first thing I would want after a coconut palm would be Google.

I like having a choice of dozens of soaps with different scents instead of reaching for the boring white Ivory Snow bar that was always in the tub. I just want to understand why when we have so much we are so unsatisfied? Not unhappy, not dissatisfied, but unsatisfied, unfulfilled. That is a different emotion. Just feeling less complete or maybe completed.

So what accounts for having too much in the way of choices, opportunities, experiences, things and information and too little in the way of inner happiness? Maybe what we forgot was that our parents and their parents had The Dream with capital letters. We have so much there is little left for us to Dream of. We can get on a plane and go wherever we want if we want. With enough money, we could go to space.

My parents died half a century ago dreaming that one day they would go to Europe. It seemed so far away back then but they held the Dream close. I Dreamed that I would get better at skipping flat stones across the rocks in the creek behind our house when we lived in the North. I Dreamed that the walks I took with my father every night when we were in Florida as he smoked his one-cigar-a-day would last longer and we could stop at the little ice cream parlour on the way for an ice cream cone every day instead of just now and then.

Dreams don’t have to be large. They just have to be. So maybe the answer to the question ‘What is the matter with us that we have so much and feel so little?’ is that we have wants and desires and plans, but we don’t have The Dream.

Speaking of The Dream, Eastern religious lore has it that dreaming of avocados is a sign of happiness and could mean you will soon marry. Avocados are among nature’s most beneficial foods and long before there was a breakfast dish known as avocado toast in which the soft inside of the pear-shaped fruit shares the toast with accompaniments like olive oil, smoked salmon or diced hard-boiled egg, avocados were known for their heart-healthy healing powers. They tackle bad cholesterol, gut bacteria and are especially good for pregnant women.

As for The Dream, here’s a small one. I dream my bulging avocados that look like they are ready to burst will soon ripen fully and we can share with friends.

Non-partisan kudos to two Cabinet ministers

For years, the walk up Hawkins Hill for anyone going to Immigration has been a disgrace for every government should have been embarrassed but for which no government ever apologized.

An empty lot just north of the hilltop structure was overflowing with trash and debris packed so tightly and piled so high it looked like it was going to topple the wall that barely contained it. In recent years, staff were treated to premium parking spots across from the building in the old Traditions furniture store parking lot, but ‘clients’ were ordered to park down the hill and trot or clamber up on the road, past the overflowing street dump while trying to dodge oncoming traffic.

The situation was brought to the attention of Elsworth Johnson, Minister of Immigration along with Financial Services and Trade & Industry, and Johnson took action.

The filth has been cleared. The owner of that property should be charged with whatever the cost to clean it was and levied a fine for allowing it to happen. Chances are, you and I will pick up the tab but kudos anyway and wishing the honourable and attentive minister a speedy recovery from COVID.

Likewise, non-partisan kudos to DPM and Minister of Works Desmond Bannister who took the initiative to suggest it was time The Bahamas amended the law (though I have no idea why it takes legal action) to allow third party inspectors to conduct inspections on older or suspect buildings before tragedy strikes. Spotting flaws, structural weaknesses, spalling concrete or underground parking deterioration ahead of time is a sound if not essential measure in the wake of the Champlain Towers collapse and the tragedy in Surfside, Florida.

Non-partisan hats off to both Elsworth Johnson and Desmond Bannister.


JokeyJack 1 year ago

"As for The Dream, here’s a small one. I dream my bulging avocados that look like they are ready to burst will soon ripen fully and we can share with friends."

Hopefully you can eat them with your mask on. What a waste of words that article was. Geesh. You can't be living in the real world.


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