Monday, September 10, 2007

Who Am I? Where Have I Been? Where Am I Going?

This morning, I am writing from Maggie Valley, NC where Frances and I stayed last night. I am on the Internet from the MicroTel Inn - an experience that would not have happened even a few short years ago when there was not even a FAX machine available. At least, if it was available, I was un-aware of it's existence or purpose before December of 1988. It may have existed but was priced out of range of us "common folks". This is consistent with the book I'm reading now entitled, "The World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman. Friedman says that the Phone, FAX, Personal Computers and the Internet have caused the world to become "Flat" at lightning like speed. What he means is that now the things which were only available to the rich and powerful are now made available to everyone through these modern technological developments.

Let me share my earliest experiences with the FAX and the Personal Computer... In December 1988 we were visiting family in Monroe, Louisiana. One day we took the women out to the mall to shop. Dad and I wandered into a Radio Shack store because of my interest in amateur radio and all other kinds of gadgets. When we looked at a strange "phone" and enquired about it, the salesman said that we could write with a pen or pencil on one sheet of paper and that the phone/fax on the other end would print out whatever had been written. I remember asking, "Can you demonstrate this by calling from one fax machine to another?" It was shocking, awesome, wonder-ful to see this thing operate. When the girls finished shopping and we showed them what we had discovered, Frances and I decided that day that we had to have one of these machines to take with us to Africa. It was astounding that we could call a number at home and then transfer a letter via "fax" that would be printed out 10,000 miles from where we would be living.

As for the Personal Computer, the only one I had seen prior to that time was a Commodor 64 which we had bought for Tabitha as her graduation present from high school. That grand machine stored 64 kilobytes of memory. It amazed me that by connecting that computer to a "dot matrix" printer with a color ribbon we could print out a picture that actually looked something like the picture on the box!!! About a year later, just before we left to go to Kenya, East Africa, the Missions Department decided to buy us a personal computer. It was un-believably full of memory storage capacity. It had 20 mega-bytes of memory. "Fred, that's all you'll ever need for Kenya!" said the chief accounting officer in our missions department.

I just read my sister's blog about her visit to Flat Rock, NC, home of the famous poet Carl Sandburg. I'll let him speak for me this morning with a quote: "It is necessary now and then for man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; To sit on a rock in the forest and ask of himself, 'Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?" In a paraphrase of an old commercial from TV, "We've come a long way, baby!"

That's one of the main reason's I bought the cabin at Pumzika Acres in the Cherokee Forest. I really look forward to going there more often for that kind of reflection when I retire. For now, we are on our way to "The Cove" and a three day retreat with our Assistant General Overseer, Dr. Tim Hill, and his "Covenant Ministry Team". I'll give ya'll a report after it's over...but for now gotta get up and get going as we still have another hour of driving to get to our destination.

This afternoon we are in the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove near Asheville, NC. Here in the quietness of our room (which is deliberately designed with no TV set) I tried the question that Carl Sandburg said should be asked of oneself ocassionally by asking Frances to tell me who she is. After talking for 30 minutes or more I observed that she had not told me who she is, but had told me about her children, her brothers and sisters, her Mom, her friends. I am about to conclude that asking who a person is may be one of the most difficult questions of life. When Frances began to indicate that she felt I was picking and being irritating - I decided we needed a bucket of ice. Now Frances is stopping me (has stopped me in the last 10 minutes at least three times) to read to me what Billy Graham has said in some of his observations about life and death. Is this an indication that it is easier to read what someone else has said than to come up with our own observations?


Travelin' On said...

This is an awesome post! I like all this "reflection." I smiled as I realized how our technological world has changed and felt my joints get a creakier. I was reflecting that I may have as many stories about my "old days" as my parents used to tell me! OH ME!
Well, anyways...THEN I smiled even more as I imagined Frances trying to maintain her composure and her patience as you were "picking on her." :) It IS difficult to answer the "who am I question." I just may have to post a story due to this her blog of yourn. HA
I was once asked that question too (the who are you?) by a mentor/pastor. It only took me about 7 years to think that I might finally have an answer.
I hope you guys have a well deserved rest and a marvelous time there. Sounds GREAT! No TV AND an ice bucket. Hey, you're off to a good start.

Lowell Brannen said...

Enjoyed the blog. Thanks!

Corky Alexander said...

Kim and I were talking about what a good job you do at blogging. You will have a rich storehouse of stories to tell of your many travels.