What an incredibly busy week and an incredibly busy start to the year!
Last night, I attended the live podcast taping of the NPR Politics show and the panelists, as was the audience, we’re all in on the joke of things happening at such pace that by time they finished taping and/or we left, we would expect to hear some change or whiplash or something from the Hill regarding the potential government shutdown, and that by time the show airs tonight, it would already be out of date.
When did the world get so fast?
In the ending section of the podcast, “Can’t Let It Go”, Mara Liasson mentioned that we’re coming up on 20 years since the Drudge Report hit the world with the Clinton / Lewinsky affair… and it took 2-3 days before the Washington Post published their article on it and everyone actually had to wait for the paper to be printed to pick it up and read it.
Ha! “So quaint!” a paper had to be printed and it took a few days for ‘breaking news’ to hit.
When, when, my friends, did the world get so fast?
I feel that pressing immediacy, no, reactivity, in every part of my life. I entered the “world of work” back in 2003 and it was always ‘busy’ but now it’s B.U.S.Y. and I often wonder what we get out of that. My manager is someone who seeks efficiency via technology and we get into these friendly tussles which mostly end with me asking the question:
“Is the goal efficiency just for the sake of efficiency or is it …?” And I often end that question with an ellipses – it’s all in my facial expression – because I want his answer, not just to fill in my own if I have one. For, if we can’t answer that, then why are we jumping through all these hoops to be ‘faster’ and ‘more efficient?’ Does it actually get us what we want, or better yet, what we need?
This desperate reactivity, and I stand behind the addition of the word “desperate” because everyone often runs around with these pained expressions of hopelessness if the thing does not happen fast enough, is not healthy. Not emotionally. Not physically.
And, worst of all, much of the time it is self-inflicted. Self-imposed rules; self-imposed deadlines; self-imposed pressure–
Why? Because, often, we try to react so very fast, to be the one with the fastest quip on Twitter, or the first up with the newest “in thing” on Instagram (this week, it’s the Google Arts and Culture selfie app), or respond to a client with 100% certainty (because the world will E.N.D. if we need to have a second conversation), or [fill in the blank]–
All of it is about protecting our necks and our soft, squishy, insides. Or, in other words: we don’t like uncertainty, we hate being vulnerable, we want to be seen as the best / most perfected version of ourselves, and we are drowning in it.
I think we’re drowning. Slowly, but surely.
Anyways, I’m looking forward to this weekend, but I’m trying not to make that a habit. Instead, as I was doing mostly throughout last year, I build breathing time into my regular life. Not every day gets a special allocation of “me time” or anything like that, but this nonsense of having to heave out a deep sigh of relief because I only have another 12-14 hours to go and I’m already up before 7 working on a Friday?
Nope. Not making it a habit at all.
In a series of conversations I had with friends over the last week, we spoke about the “best” way to vacation. I was told that most Americans don’t travel as much as I do (fair) and most New Yorkers don’t even either (“they’re a provincial people”- not my words) and that the majority of people look forward to their 1-2 weeks off a year and plan for that one big trip, and I asked, why?
Why wait? If I need 2 weeks away from my life to feel normal and to be okay, I don’t think I’m living my life right. On the flip side, one shouldn’t need to jet off every weekend or every other weekend, either. There is a necessary balance.
We are made for more than work. We are made for more than productivity. We are made to enjoy our lives and that is a combination of work and relaxation, of effort and being able to experience the rewards of that effort.
If you’re not doing that, the days just start ticking by quickly, too quickly, and then you will wake up one day and ask: what has it all been for?
Let’s not do that to ourselves, okay? Instead, let’s do better. Let’s slow down, let’s take it all in, let’s react less and live more (honestly, freely, openly).
Let’s live more.