What happened to not knowing? To being surprised every now and again?
Once upon a time, there were no gender reveal parties. Moms and dads-to-be were forced to paint their nurseries in neutral colors and await the announcement in the delivery room on the child’s birth day.
It used to be that if you left your house and someone called on the phone, you would never know unless the person told you.
There was no voicemail, no caller ID, no cell phones. So your hands were pretty much empty — and your mind a bit less cluttered — everywhere you went.
If you wanted to watch a TV show or get a call — stay home. Wait by the phone or sit in proximity to the television set. There was also built-in exercise, as you’d have to walk across the room and change the channel.
If you wanted a sandwich, you got up during the commercial, raced to the kitchen and tried to make it back before the show resumed.
There was no such thing as pausing or rewinding. And even reruns weren’t a given.
Not any more! These days before the shows even air, there are already spoiler alerts or a released cast list or you hear how it ends on Twitter or Facebook or social media.
Sometimes you might learn the outcome of a sports game, a reality show or a pageant before you’ve gotten a chance to watch it.
With modern conveniences, though, come trade-offs.
I can’t tell you how many times I have been forced to watch a show to avoid having the ending spoiled. Or I have had to steer clear of newspapers, online reports or announcers thinking they were doing us a favor by revealing the outcome or ending.
When it first came to TV, I didn’t watch the “Bachelor.” Or the first few episodes of “Survivor.”
I have discovered that with some shows, it’s perfectly OK not to watch every plot twist. For one thing, there are simply too many characters to keep up with, so it’s acceptable to wait until some of them are winnowed down.
I mean, it’s not like “The Matrix” movies or some other intense script where every word, every nuance factors into the story.
Reality shows, though, especially the “Real Housewives” franchise, can free us up to run out and cook a meal if we are so inclined.
That is, if you’re watching it live. These days, most folks DVR or stream things.
I have also been guilty of some of this. I have been known to check “Reality Steve” online to see who the Bachelor or Bachelorette is going to pick at the end. I have sometimes printed out the advance spoilers because there’s always some very undeserving jerk or jerkette who I simply cannot wait to see eliminated and it is a mental health thing to anticipate the good news that there will come a day he/she will not get a rose.
And on rare occasions, like “American Idol,” curiosity got the better of me and I enjoyed getting the Top 10 list before the auditions even took place.
The casualty in all this, however, is the element of surprise.
For many of us, this doesn’t happen as much.
But isn’t that what makes life especially interesting is the not knowing?
I learned long ago to avoid praying for patience. As most of us know, it’s a very slippery slope. In order to acquire patience — which is not simple, easy or natural — usually entails obstacles and challenges being thrust in our path in order to build the necessary muscles to be patient.
So, I decided to do one better — I prayed to be able to let life unfold.
Spoiler alert: It’s the same thing. “Letting life unfold” is just a fancier way of saying it.
But the point is, sometimes it is in the waiting that we learn not to rely on our own understanding or steam.
That’s why they call it faith.
And anyway, there is something to be said for rising each day and not knowing the outcome.
For every day we get to live is a bonus, and every person a gift, one we can either learn from or teach, receive a blessing from or extend one to them.
That is way better than any manufactured surprises.