Tom Stangl

We are navigating our way through deep summer, a time to enjoy the beauty and abundance of nature and generally try to slow down our self-imposed need to rush and obsess about things that are out of direct control.

I have been thinking about this a great deal lately and I appreciate this opportunity to talk with you about this, gentle reader.

I’ve come to the conclusion that our lives are far too easy and we somehow have a need for struggle hard wired into our genetic makeup.

When I grew up in the 1960s and 70s, my father worked full time, five and a half days a week. My mother did not work outside the home for much of my childhood. Mom may not have earned a paycheck, but she put in a full day, every day.

She made three meals a day, did laundry with a wringer washer, cleaned the house and paid attention to our petty squabbles. For those of you who never had the pleasure of doing laundry with a wringer washer, it was a true physical workout. 

The machine needed to be filled up with a water hose, drained by another hose and the clothing passed through a wringer to get the excess water removed. The clothes then went into a rinse tub to remove soap and were passed through the wringer again before being hung on a clothesline to dry.

Mom did her work efficiently to find time to read part of a novel and catch part of her soap opera on television before getting lunch and supper ready. No microwaves, no fast food, just a plain meal with meat, potatoes and a vegetable. Oh, and she made cookies and cakes for dessert as well.

My dad, (aka The Chief) worked very hard as an automotive mechanic. He devoured his lunch so he could take a cat nap before returning to work.

As hard as may parents’ lives were, they were a breeze compared to their childhoods. Technology and consumerism have promised improved quality of life for every successive generation, but I wonder if we are using that energy in a positive way.

I know the good old days weren’t as good as we like to recall but it seems to me that even though life was a struggle, there was a sense of a noble exhaustion at the end of the day. My parents knew that they had done their jobs providing shelter and food for their families and could feel proud about the manner in which it was accomplished.

It is rare today that there is an adult who doesn’t work outside the home. We use many prepackaged and processed foods and there are many communities where you can get a hot meal 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

No more need to struggle with meals. Laundry is done by efficient machines. What used to take my mother hours to do can be done with very little human intervention in the same or less amount of time.

Instead of having the noble exhaustion, we have insomnia. Instead of meaningful interaction with people, we snipe and pick at persons we don’t even know through the thin air.

Something needs to change. We need to find a way to have noble exhaustion again.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading; I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.

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