The couple walked into the Italian restaurant I work at, and my supervisor nodded toward them.
“That’s your table. But take your time with them. They like to have a full glass of wine before they even order.”
I led the elderly couple to the table, greeted them, and got their wine order: a bottle of Chianti. After pouring two glasses and telling them to let me know when they were ready to order, I had simply to play the waiting game.
Throughout the evening, they, indeed, took their time. When they finally ordered, after finishing their glasses of wine, they made clear to me that they must be completely finished with their side salads before I brought out the main dish. I had to ask the kitchen to keep the food warm, once it was made, for this very reason. The couple took even longer to finish their meal, and they sat for long after, drinking more of the wine.
Throughout the evening, their unhurried manner irked me. I wasn’t upset; their manner was just one that I did not see very often. After they had gone and I was still pondering over it, I realized that I was irked because I feel that I could never be so at peace with myself and unhurried as they seemed.
Let me expound further.
In my opinion, one of the great differences between Baby Boomers and Millennials is the mindset of busyness into which they were raised. Baby Boomers grew up in a time of far less advanced technologies, not to mention far fewer, than we have now. While the original intent of having such technologies may have been to save human time (washing laundry and dishes, recording/ copying/ computing data, transporting ourselves and goods, communicating, and manufacturing goods), I believe that technology has made our modern culture more stressed out than it used to be. We feel the need to keep up with and stay ahead of/ in control of our technology. Technology allows us to multi-task so much and be so “productive” in short periods of time that we feel the need to cram the absolute degree of productivity into each bit of free time. We must always be hearing, seeing, engaging with, or working on something. We are used to constant visual change and input: TV, social media, computers, ads, signs, lights, etc. We are used to constant noise: headphones and portable music devices, crowded workplaces, and blaring music at public establishments. Growing up immersed in such a culture crafts people who are in a hurry and who have a hard time justifying the act of sitting and doing nothing, especially when in the presence of others.
I’m not a naysayer about all things related to technology. Technology is very wonderful, helpful, and useful. However, overall, I believe that technology makes us feel not more rested and blessed with time, but more helpless, dependent upon it, and frustrated by our need for it amidst its failings and interruptions.
Meanwhile, Baby Boomers grew up in a time in which simple tasks, business, communication, and transportation were more difficult but probably simpler. I think that this divide in technology creates an older generation that enjoys a slower pace than that of the younger generations (Generation X/ Millennials). Because of the hard labor required by tasks, perhaps they weren’t immersed in constant multi-tasking (driving while talking on the phone, having multiple conversations at once via various social medias, and working on multiple projects in a computer setting). Focusing simply on the moment one was living in, the person/ people one was physically spending time with, or the task at hand might have been easier.
As the evening went, I was intrigued by the couple. They looked old enough to have been married for twice the span of my own life. They enjoyed the simple act of sitting together for a long period of time without even engaging in an activity together. They weren’t working, being entertained, holding constant conversation, or getting things done. They were so comfortable with each other that they seemed to be implying, “I enjoy your presence enough just to soak it in and be fully here in this moment with you, even long before our meal arrives and long after it is finished.”
Once the elderly couple left, I marveled a bit. I wished that, someday, when I have grown old, I will have the sense of rest, joy, and peace within myself and my relationships to simply sit and savor every last drop of wine in my glass. I suppose that sense of unhurried, focused peace begins with focusing on every day, every hour, and every moment, trying to be present in each moment, undivided in body, mind, and spirit.
Such a mindset is hard work to maintain, especially as I am adjusting to post-college life and trying to remember that I don’t have to maintain the same level of stress-driven productivity as I was maintaining in school. But the mindset that I am perpetuating in my life now will plant the seeds of the mindset I will have for the rest of my life, so there is no better time to start than the present.
And maybe that all begins with a simple, unhurried glass of wine. 😉
Photo source: http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/red-wine-benefits/