Now that our society is totally addicted to instant communication, I pondered the idea of what life was like before cell phones and email. I remember that time. It wasn't that long ago. But you'd think, today, that we never knew how to leave our house without having immediate access to everyone we know!
It was a little over a decade ago that people began carrying a phone with them everywhere, and now many people have them attached to their head!
Back up a few years more: there was no call-waiting or answering machine. If someone was home, they answered the phone. If they weren't, you tried them again later. If they were already on the phone, you got a busy signal.
But imagine, not only running errands without a phone, but traveling west for a permanent move that might forever separate you from your family and friends, and quite possibly, from all you've ever known. Imagine being content with a letter from home every 6 months or so.
This, to me, is what made up the Pioneer Spirit. It wasn't just having the courage to go to an unknown, unsettled land. It was also saying good-bye to all the comforts of civilization. Wow. I don't think I can even fathom that.
At the end of Little House in the Big Woods, the Ingalls family decided to go west. They pulled up their roots, and traveled alone to the unknown dangers of the Indian Territory (Kansas).
At the end of Little House on the Prairie, they were forced to uproot again, so they went north and settled again, On the Banks of Plum Creek.
At the end of that book, they again relocated. Every time they moved, it was to a new, equally remote location. There were no quick visits back home to the 'folks.' There were no daily or weekly phone calls. Just occasional letters.
Even the letters were short and to the point. Ma would work on a letter for weeks and weeks, adding only what could fit on on sheet of paper (front and back) and writing in the margins. She wanted to fit only the most important details on to that one sheet of paper.
The Ingalls family didn't have the comfort of discussing joys and fears and sorrows with their immediate family. Because of this, they were a close-knit family, and had a strong faith in God.
I think we can all agree that instant communication is really convenient, but it has also changed our society. Does a cell phone take precedence over your family time? Over your work? Do you answer every call just because the phone is ringing?
If you long for the simple life, put your phone on silent, let them leave a message, and you can get back to them later. After all, that's what we did in 1990.