Amid all the morose and maudlin whinging about how we are losing our sense of self, our ability to self-moderate, or more generally our minds, merit, and money, today I offer up a list of things to get excited about in 2011.
Here are 25 reasons life (and mine specifically) is better today than it would have been…
250 Years Ago
25. I can reasonably expect to live longer than 33 years.
24. In my life, I’ve visited over 10 countries on 3 continents. And among my friends, I’m not well travelled. In 1761, people rarely left their hometown, let alone the country.
23. Last night I heard superb music by 10 different composers, played by a world-class orchestra, for under $30. (And I waved a Union Flag while doing it! “And did those feet, in ancient time…”) In 1761, only a fraction of the population could hear such music – and not cheaply.
22. Indoor plumbing! Sewers! Need I say more?
21. I can buy a great book for under $5; in 1761 it would have cost the equivalent of about $1000.
100 Years Ago
20. As a woman, I can choose who runs my country/province/ city (at least in theory). And I didn’t have to be jailed and force-fed by a tube in order to have the right to do it – all I had to do was reach majority.
18. I do laundry by putting a bunch of clothes into a machine, pouring in some liquid, and pressing a few buttons, instead of spending two days with the household staff, soaking it, wringing it out repeatedly, and stirring it around in crazy chemicals with washing bats. It’s like magic.
17. Electricity — in my home! Amazing.
16. In one of my history classes we watched 1900 House, a documentary in which a family of six lived as they would have in 1900 for three months. A memorable take-away? Modern shampoo is a hell of a lot more effective than egg yolk and citrus. “I just smell really, sort of, omlette-y.”
50 Years Ago
15. I did not have to promise to obey my husband when we got married. In fact, I didn’t even have to get married to get all the legal benefits of a long-term committed relationship.
14. I can wear pants! and shorts! And neither is prohibited by law.
13. I can eat any kind of food I want to, and could probably find somebody from its country of origin to talk to about it. Every day just walking down the street I see a greater degree of diversity than at any other time in history, all in once place, living (relatively) harmoniously together.
12. I can choose whether or not to spawn, with near-certainty that my wishes will be protected by law and the wisdom of modern medicine.
11. A century old saying has it that “horses sweat, men perspire — ladies merely glisten.” But when I go to the gym, I can sweat all I like, and feel healthy doing it. Moreover, certain terrifying Amazonian female athletes step it up a notch by adding a soundtrack.
25 Years Ago
10. I live in the charmingly-labelled “Rainbow Village” area of Toronto, where I can watch men walk down the street holding hands, or carrying impossibly tiny dogs wearing designer hats in large purses.
9. I can find out what’s going on in any part of the world in under 10 seconds, at the click of a button.
8. I feel reasonably secure knowing that many heinous crimes are solved using DNA evidence. Bonus: I can watch any of the fascinating procedural dramas stemming from said advancements in forensic science. Bring it on, Grissom!
7. I can listen to “Tarzan Boy” over and over and over again without having to rewind, ever.
6. It’s exciting that people are taking steps to protect the environment more than at any other time in modern history. Or, at least, they’re aware of how to protect it.
10 Years Ago
5. I can press a button on a machine and be talking to my grandmother, 3500 miles away, in under 10 seconds. For free. (And I feel like God every time I do it. Think about it: your computer is calling someone else’s! This is the kind of thing they dreamed about in SciFi movies 50 years ago.)
4. I can access the Internet everywhere I go. Want to know if the restaurant I’m walking by is any good? I can read reviews. If I’m lost? I can get directions. Wondering if it’s going to rain? I can check the weather. Instantaneously.
3. Buying a home during a recession meant we got an insane deal on our mortgage.
2. I can watch things like this all day if I want to:
1. I have a place to share my latest thoughts, pictures, or links to rambling blog posts with my closest friends, and get feedback from any or all of them, immediately. Communication is more frequent than ever before. I can feel like part of a community without even having to leave my desk. (Or put on the pants I was so excited about earlier.)
What are you excited about in 2011 that you would add to this list?