Thursday, February 15, 2007

Instant potatoes.....

No, this post is not really about instant potatoes. :)

It is about instant gratification, instant intimacy, instant food and disposable people.

A few things have occurred over the past few days that got me thinking about this, how so many of us have the inability to wait gracefully.

Upfront: I know I do not live a life that is as fast-paced as some find necessary for survival. I have the gift of time. And I use it.

Still, I can't get beyond the feeling that we've all lost the ability to wait for something worthwhile, to sit gracefully and know that most worthwhile things do take time.

In this last relationship, I was amazed when the guy asked me to marry him after knowing me for less than three weeks, how quickly he expected intimacy and how he honestly believed it was Right Action. I nearly didn't know how to respond. It seems so obvious that marrying someone in such a short period of time and expecting to have all the benefits of a carefully-considered courtship is anything but Right Action. It's the mindset of a child.

I'm not criticizing him. That's the way he's been trained to believe. It's the way he's been trained to function in the world. That is his logical expectation.

We're surrounded by instant everything. Instant food. Instant news. Instant analysis. Instant decisions. If you want a loan, someone promises to make an instant decision. If we need to talk with someone, we expect that person to be available and ready. Heaven forbid we should have to leave a message and wait for a call back. Instead, we call someone on their cell phone, caring not in the least whether we are interrupting or what we are interrupting. After all, our needs come first. There are plenty of devices and programs to make sure we don't have to wait for anything. We are promised instant gratification for nearly anything we want or believe we need.

In choosing a life partner, I believe we need to experience all the seasons of life with that person to know whether or not s/he will be compatible. There are passages to be met. We have our first fight, our first sex, our first shared experience of family trouble, our first political disagreement. We need to know each other's money styles, fighting styles, sexual styles. These things take time. The good has to be nurtured and the bad negotiated. We have to grow together.

It is not the venue for having our needs met immediately.

The guy I saw Saturday night waited three days before putting a rather pathetic, desperate ad out on a dating website.

I'm sure he will meet someone who will marry him in three weeks. And I'm sure he will end up unhappy for not taking the time it requires to develope a relationship with her. That's kind of sad, really.




Anvilcloud said...

Three weeks at this age (or any other) seems a bit childish.

Caro said...

This "immediate gratification" makes me ill. Litterally. My rythm is different from most. I don't function well in a stressful environment. I have to be able to rest or else my brain chemistry goes completely out of whack. (all that cortisol and adrenaline running havoc in the computer!)The vast majority of people in my entourage don't understand this. They thrive on the culture's rapid pace and are very proud of the status symbols their fast-paced jobs allow them to purchase. I don't understand their need for the I-Pods, for the cellphones,Blackberry's,for all of these toys that are supposed to give us time.
Time for what? More time ,to work more hours to buy more stuff that helps us save time...

Susanne said...

I find this need for instant gratification unnerving too. And, as you said, it's not only the young who haven't learned different, it seems to affect the old too, who might know better.

On the other hand, when my husband and I first met, we knew that we would be staying together, marry and have children after only three dates or so. And then we decided not to take chances and to wait for a year before marrying.

It has worked well for the last 13 years.

Penny said...

I very much enjoyed this post and wholeheartedly agree.. even where I am guilty of impatience.

Anonymous said...

For a long time, I thought I was doing something wrong when I'd try to make mashed potatoes. They're always lumpy. Finally, my husband said to me, "Just when you're sick of mashing? That's when you need to mash some more." Good analogy.

I don't mind instant intimacy, not just meaning sex here, because I like most people well enough to hang around and fill in the other blanks. It's one of the things that drew me to blogging, actually.

Instant gratification is a different sort of problem. I don't like things to be too hard, I've admitted that. I'd like to mull this over a bit.

MsLittlePea said...

You'll probably dissapprove of how fast I got married then. We waited an entire 2 months before getting engaged then another 2 before getting married. It just felt so right-and our 10th anniversay is coming up so we didn't make a mistake. I would go nuts if my (imaginary) daughter told me she was getting married after only 4 months though.
I do agree with you about immediate gratification. I'm usually pretty slow and easy-going but certain things do make me impatient because I'm used to getting what I need RIGHT NOW. I like what Caro wrote-it's true.

meno said...

Hmm, i think i'll order pizza for dinner tonight so i don't have to cook. It takes too much time. :)

Getting married after 3 weeks is insanity. If he doesn't figure out why is is in such a hurry he will be doomed to repeat the same mistake over and over.

Courtship shoud be process oriented rather than goal oriented.

ellie bee said...

You are so right--its the MCmentality. And we can't seem to escape it. I know that as much as I try to fight it I am addicted to my computer, my email, my cell phone,my swiping my card, paypal, click goes on and on.

Julie Pippert said...

Yes. And no.

Instant gratification...lack of patience...too quick to dispose of things (or people).

These are all troubling to me.

Ask anyone who knows me, I often say, "Lose the sense of urgency. That's the real root of all evil."

It's been a long lesson for me, and is one I am still working on. It's a hard habit to break, and especially difficult since the world around us screams rush! rush! all the time.

So many time savers didn't make ore time, it seems, just more work.

As far as romance goes...well, sometimes it is quick, and that can be okay. I knew from the beginning with my husband. He took a little longer, but luckily I had the patience for it.

My dad and his wife met and married within something like 6-8 weeks. It's worked for them for most of my life, and happily too.

I don't know that you can use "time" as a measure for the maturity or wisdom of a relationship.

I could think, based on my experience, that if you need longer than six months to decide about a relationship then you already have your answer.

See what I mean?

Instead I think, "Well three weeks wasn't long enough for you at that point." Would he have respected that POV if you had shared it?

The answer to that would be more telling to me than the fact that he was ready to commit after three weeks.

Laurie said...

My mom and dad only knew each other for a month before they married. They were together until she died, which was about 56 years. Most of the time they got along well. Back then though, things were quite different.

On the other hand, I married my ex-husband after only 4 months and it barely lasted a year (though we were together for 5). I married for the wrong reason have a child. I have a wonderful son that I love more than life, so it worked for me.

I think that it works for some people (my parents and Mspea), but for most, probably not.

Great post, as usual.

KC said...

Instant potatoes compared to home-mashed? A clear difference in quality, in taste, in satisfaction, in preparation. Instant potatoes can seem like a great idea...if you're starving.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

In theory, you are right, but my husband and I married after only a few months, and we just celebrated our 15th anniversary. We had both been married before and didn't intend to marry again.

While in our case it was not a mistake, I believe that most people should go through all the seasons of a year together before making it legal. That should be a fair test and quite long enough to know who the other person really is.

Fonzi said...

I have been lurking this blog for quite awhile now.

What is ironic to me is that Ms. Chani spouts a lot of good sense, yet none of this good sense has anything to do with Thailand or Thai culture.

On this topic, for example, Thailand is an instant gratification culture.

There are fast food restaurants and shopping malls on the sidewalks.

7/11s are everywhere.

There are brothels selling sex on practically every street corner for the quick sex fix.

The Thai government has to go on a propaganda campaign against teen sex, because Thai teenagers are promiscuous and don't use condemns.

In the temples, most Thais want lucky numbers for the lottery and good luck amulets, yet won't sit for 15 minutes for vipassana meditation.

Look at the new airport. It took 40 years to plan, but the rushed the building phase and now the whole thing is coming apart at the seams.

I don't know. Maybe this blog should be renamed common sense gal instead of Thailand Gal.

Bob said...

I proposed at the 3 month mark. We married at the 6 month mark. We just celebrated our 22nd anniversary. We were warned by my wife's minister that we were too much alike, we would have trouble. We did. Our faults tend to be magnified in each other because we tend to share them. We are still together - despite our faults. So, was it a mistake to marry so soon? Maybe. Would I do it again - yes. She's the love of my life.

I would (and will, if circumstances occur) counsel my children to wait, to get to know each other. If it's right, it will be there a little later. We aren't the best example to follow.

Instant gratification sets up false expectations. Life doesn't work that way. The sooner that lesson is learned, the happier people will be.

Anonymous said...

Instant food may look magic, when it is most of the time a poor ersatz.

Immediacy leads also to a Manichean view of the world, when it appears in blogs' comments.

On another side, when we are getting older, the life is shorter and shorter, and the valuable rule is then: carpe diem.

Thailand Gal said...

Anvil, yes. Childish. That is the part that's so disturbing. This may end up being another post. LOL


Caro, as you know, I'm with you. I also live at a different pace and can't deal with the "fast, fast, fast" stuff. It alienates me.


Susanne, I know there are many exceptions to this. There are times when we might just know on an intuitive level that someone is right for us. I respect that totally. My tendency is to be careful and cautious because I've seen too much result of impulsive decisions. The guy I am discussing here clearly wasn't right for me and I knew it. Otherwise, his moving too fast may not have bothered me so much. :)


Penny, I am impatient about some things, too, but definitely not about things that could affect the rest of my life. :)


SB, love it! I absolutely love that analogy! In five years, I'll be quoting it. It's perfect. Check out KC's for another perfect analogy.

We'll end up with a bunch of them, wisewoman! :)


MsPea, I get you. And I don't disapprove at all. I celebrate the fact that you knew with such certainty. :)


Meno, exactly! He is purely a goal-directed guy. He has another ad out on a dating website already. In my less than kind moments, I'd say he has the depth of a parking lot puddle. (g>


Ellie Bee, I love all those things, too. It's just important to be able to discern between convenience items and people. That's where the disconnect seems to be occurring.


Julie, I can definitely see that.. and I don't think this is a black/white issue. There are going to be shades of grey but I do think there is a healthy way of traversing the continuum and an unhealthy way.


Laurie, thanks. I do think it works for some people. It absolutely works.. but I agree that it doesn't for most. I can't imagine a bigger decision than who to marry. After all, there has to be a trust level so great that I know that person can speak for me if I can not ~ and that I can do the same for him. It's a big responsibility. It's not just about having fun and getting laid legally. :)


KC, right on the dot! You get the nailgun award for the day. BAM BAM BAM. LOL


Susan, the seasons are very important. That's how we learn how someone will react in given situations, their coping habits, communications styles.. all the stuff that leads to a long and healthy marriage.


Fonzi, thanks for the compliment. Glad you've been lurking.

There is a great deal I could say about Thailand and the influence that has taken root there.

I will only say this: The people who read this blog tend to be intelligent, aware people. I present traditional Thai values frequently and I don't have to say "this is a traditional Thai value." They know. :)

I also don't want to turn this into a west v. east blog ~ all the time. Sometimes subtlety is a good thing.


Bob, that sounds like a really good time span. As someone said, if you don't know the answer in 6 months, that's an answer in itself. :)


Genevieve, it's all about balance. And most of western thought is Manichean. :)


Thanks, all :)