This post is published a little later than usual.
Earlier today I had no time to focus on you. Rather than hastily putting something together, I think you deserve my full attention.
I’m a big fan of Top Chef, and this reality show has taught me never to send something out of the kitchen that isn’t properly prepared.
Now that I finally have time to be fully present, I can tell you the story of a tribal man from Africa who went to the United States for a trip. This happened some twenty years ago. When he came home, he had to report back to his elders about his experience.
“What are the people like?” they wanted to know.
“I can describe them to you in two words,” the traveler said:
“Hurry, worry. Hurry, worry.”
“And you know what’s most remarkable?” he continued… “Everybody in America wears a watch, but nobody has time.”
I think it is a sad but true observation about western society in general. Since this African man made his trip, things have only gotten worse. Life is getting faster and faster. Some days I cannot keep up anymore… The hurry, the worry. The posts, the alerts, the emails and text messages… it is TOO MUCH!
Here’s what’s really sad: absorbing information does not make us any wiser.
I mean, do we fight fewer wars? Have we ended world hunger, homelessness, and discrimination? Did we save the environment? Is everybody getting vaccinated?
And you know what? Most of what we absorb on a daily basis is just DISTRACTION. It’s the junk mail in the inbox, the sales messages, the spam, the matters that are never urgent and yet fight for our attention.
Listen to me! Watch this! Look over here! Don’t miss out!
Some days I want to yell at my computer, saying:
“STOP TRYING TO SELL ME THINGS, YOU IDIOTS! I’M A HUMAN BEING, NOT A CASH COW!”
The good news is that we have a choice about what we pay attention to. We are not helpless creatures, like Pavlov’s dogs.
The choice you make depends on your priorities. Your priorities depend on your values and beliefs, and we reveal our values and beliefs through our actions.
Different people do different things for different reasons.
I remember going to the playground with my two-year-old daughter. As usual, I was the only father in the sandbox. In fact, I was the only person who was actually playing with his child. The rest of the kids saw us having a good time, and soon, all of them wanted to join in and play with me and my daughter…. while their moms were staring at their cell phones all the time.
Yes, they were there in person, but they were not present. And don’t think the kids didn’t notice!
THE NEW ADDICTION
Now, there is a tendency to blame technology for this trend. It’s Apple’s fault, or Samsung did it. They created these terrible devices that are so addictive.
The opposite of addiction is FREEDOM, and I think it is time we reclaim our freedom.
So, I am slowly learning to live with doing one thing at a time. Whenever I get distracted, I whisper the wise words of Ram Dass:
BE HERE NOW
BE HERE NOW
We can only be a gift to others when we’re truly present.
It’s okay to wear a watch, but please make sure that you have time to be there for yourself, and for one another.