One of these days soon, I swear, I’ll find something about Life These Days that is better than it’s ever been. No era can be one of total decline. The good stuff is out there, baby, and I’m gonna find it!
But right now. . . alas, more signs of decline and that emblematic but almost unpronounceable acronym, TDAOAWOHE. (I guess you’d say, “Tuh-Dow-WOH-Ee.”) It stands for “The Drifting Away of All We Once Held Essential,” and I took it from the title of a poem by Leon Stokesbury, a minor poet of distant acquaintance, though the term “minor poet,” applied in today’s America, may be redundant.
TDAOAWOHE doesn’t slip off the tongue like scuba, snafu, or other familiar acronyms, and it’s even harder to pronounce than the valuable ETSOTTGO (“Easier to stay out than to get out”) coined by the Fab Sage, or my own SLAGIAT (“Seemed like a good idea at the time.”)
But, really, doesn’t TDAWOAWOHE sum up so much of what people blog about and wince about and rant about? So much of what anyone in any era holds essential is always drifting away, being replaced, or at least nudged out of the spotlight, by something that seems mindless or crude or charmless. Some times the rate of drift seems to accelerate, sometimes it slows, but it’s always going on. As Frost put it, “nothing gold can stay.”
And that brings us to the drifting away of the R. S. V. P., lamented by this Op-Edder in the NY Times:
What’s clear is how hard the R.S.V.P. rubs against the grain of contemporary life. In requesting people to anchor a plan in the distant future of a month hence, you are demanding a kind of navigation that Americans increasingly do not practice. We prefer to remain flexy, solidifying our plans incrementally as the date approaches. Let’s talk tomorrow. I’ll call you when I’m on the road. Cellphones in hand, we microadjust our schedules as they unfold around us. We’re like the air traffic controllers of our own lives. (See below for link)
Isn’t that true? Is anyone really surprised anymore when someone says he’ll call Wednesday at 10 and doesn’t, or says she’ll send you the pictures she took at the company picnic and doesn’t, etc. ? I particularly feel sorry for younger people, who may be entering a world in which nobody teaches them the value of keeping their word and fulfilling their obligations.
But if the sense of obligation drifts away too far, I suppose a new reality would set in: Nobody would expect anyone to follow through on anything, so people would radically discount everyone’s promise about everything. What kind of world would that be?
Anyway, I promised I’d give you the link to the whole R. S. V. P. lament, so here it is.