Do you think clutter was a problem for the Anasazi people? I’m guessing that housekeeping was a lot simpler back in their day. Maybe the kids were prone to leaving their sharpened flint objects laying around, but there were no iPods, no gadgets, no half-eaten bowls of goldfish laying around the cave. At any rate, I suppose the time Anasazi women saved in not having to pick up clutter was more than offset by carrying water, building fires, and keeping rattlesnakes out of the yard.
So now we have running water, central heating, gas/electric stoves, pest control and– gosh– houses with doors that close to keep out unwanted pests. Imagine if you were an Anasazi woman and someone told you they would make the water come to you and the fire start on your command… you would think you’d been promoted to god of the universe, right? Life should be so easy! Well, it should. So why isn’t it?
Oh, right. Our list of necessities has expanded a bit, hasn’t it? We don’t have to grow the food ourselves, but we have to procure a dizzying variety of it and prepare it in ever more complicated ways. So much for that time we saved with the invention of indoor plumbing and heating. We are free to adorn ourselves in infinite ways, from layers of clothing to almost none, from a touch of makeup to extensive tattoos. But we must attend to hair, face, clothing, fingernails, toenails, eyebrows, and a bunch of other things not yet on my radar. And however we choose to look, we must always change it. Keep it fresh. Update or reinvent ourselves. So much for the time we save not fighting rattlesnakes.
Oh well. All in a day’s work. Hmmm. I wonder if we have a biological need to create jobs for ourselves– if, every time we engineer a shortcut for time-filling tasks, we are actually compelled to create new tasks to take that time. If manicures and carpools and spinning classes are just substitutes for carrying water and building fires. What will a day’s work look like in fifty years– or a hundred– of two hundred? Any guesses? Will we civilized humans continue to adapt and create ways to keep ourselves busy? Or will we finally stop altogether and evolve into lumpy, helpless beings like the future humans of Wall*E lore? Egad. ‘Scuse me, I’ve got a spinning class to get to!