It seems upgrading software on your computer may be a weekly event. If you have a smart phone, the upgrades happen almost daily if you hoard as many apps as I do. Then, there is the new HTC or iPhone 5 phones arriving this fall. There are new versions of just about everything from cars to clothes. We are on en endless upgrade feedback loop, trapped on a path to the next thing. New is always better. But, while this may surely be true with technology, have we allowed ourselves to forsake the value of what takes time to age?
Wine needs proper aging, and that is after the agricultural voodoo of growing grapes. A good single malt scotch is always better as a teenager–or so I am told. The wood of an old acoustic guitar is dryer with age, ringing with more color as the years progress. And, of course cooking an old family recipe needs no upgrading once it is perfected, such as the 100-year-old meatball recipe I cooked the other night. So, to some degree we appreciate the constant and the aging over the upgrade. Upgrading is not always practical nor fulfilling.
We also upgrade our marriages, relationships, and get tired of people because people are just people. Our saturation with the next thing may very well keep us exhausted. Friends who really know us are golden. It is easier to keep upgrading friends, than invest in people who make hiding difficult for us. Community is not as simple as downloading a new driver, it requires uploading your heart, dreams, and wishes to others. When we age in a community, the gift is not only celebrating the dreams, but consoling the wounds that only one with history can appreciate.
So, new is not always better with recipes and relationships. Change is a part of being human, even if we live it out in the context of technology. However, keeping sacred some simple yet powerful traditions may very well keep us grounded. While new is better in tech, as humans growth is a different kind of change. It is more akin to aging wine than it is to downloading version 3.0. As we spend a fortune on our addiction of the “next thing” our souls crave an authentically organic counterbalance. Slow down.