Monthly Archives: September 2008
This got me thinking. We need sleep, this is a fundamental requirement for us in order to live within the acceptable parameters of sanity. My research material touches on the point that even though we haven’t evolved a great deal over the last 200 years or so, we have in fact forced the world around us to evolve. We lead increasingly busy lives, and the act of sleep appears to have become a burden rather than something to look forward to and relish. We work/play/rest etc and only when it is deemed absolutely necessary do we give in to the inevitable sleep pattern usually once a day.
Sleep is as important to us as food/water/air/shelter and warmth. Without it we would eventually die. Yet it is always at the bottom of the to-do list, the last thing on our mind at the end of the day. I suspect that if a pill was developed that could eradicate the need for sleep without side effects, the pharmaceutical companies would become even richer than they are now. We either don’t want to or are unable to set aside a decent portion of the day for sleep. This concept leads me to my main point.
Have you noticed how there never seems to be much time? To some people time itself has become a type of entity or something you can touch and mould. Indeed there are a great many phrases related to time: “Killing time”, which I find to be an irksome thing for anyone to say. “Time flies when you’re having fun”, referring to a kind of slip from one time to another when you are enjoying yourself. “Time waits for no man”, again time being a tangible object that will not wait for anyone, tick tock tick tock.
Our lives are now so busy that time is at the forefront of almost every single facet of our existence. From birth to death every last detail of our life has been governed by time, seemingly more so in our modern world. Take a standard day as an example, and many will recognise this pattern:
- Wake - shower, get ready, quick as you can as you overslept (due to lack of sleep).
- Breakfast - eat without interest in what you consume so long as you eat something.
- Travel - move as quickly as possible to place of work/study.
- Work/Study etc – this activity is even split into time chunks for meetings, lessons, lectures, labour, breaks etc.
- Travel - get home as efficiently as possible.
- Leisure - managed with accuracy to obtain maximum benefit.
- Eat - the evening meal, enjoyed by some, simply required by most for body fuel.
- Sleep - the last thing to do, a chore to more than would admit to it.
We can disregard those who don’t work (for whatever reason), have a very different lifestyle that doesn’t fit the standard working day pattern. After removing the percentage of people from the overall list who do not view time the same as the standard human working drone, I believe we are left with a significantly high percentage of people who, given the chance, would gladly take more time if it were handed to them.
So, you work, you play, you take leisure time, you eat, you sleep, you holiday, socialise… and is that it? Is that all there is? I don’t think so. If we all stop and think about it, there is always something we would love to do if we had enough time. And it can range from the mundane such as finally decorating a room, walking the dog or reading a book, to the exciting like visiting far away places, learning to play the piano or speak a new language. A few examples which might stir up your own extensive list of things-I-would-love-to-do.
How many of us can lie on our death beds and not have any regrets? I truly wish it was a tiny percentage. So what is to blame? And can we place blame anywhere? I think we can. We blame ourselves, our race as a whole. We have pushed our world to a point where time is forced to a point where we consume it all just by existing.
Don’t get me wrong, I am avid fan of technology, gadgets, gizmo’s, the lot. But in our modern world we have an abundance of electronic paraphernalia that serves to swallow time in immense chunks. A few hundred years ago we didn’t have the alarm clock to call us into the morning, we didn’t have the mobile phone ringing and dragging us onto the next set of events. There was no speedy way of moving from one place to another like there is today. The pace of the world was slower. I can see how someone might comment on how maybe time is relative, and yes it is to a certain extent.
On the whole how many of us, whilst travelling, watch the scenery, read a book or talk to other people? We are planning what to do next instead of living in the moment. The world is hungry for us to make decisions. Planning is good but in 1720 (to snatch at a random date) the planning for a farmer would have been very different to one now, for example. He sewed his crops, managed his cattle, harvested his crops. Seems simple enough. Modern day farmers deal with so many more aspects as they are connected to the world in a multitude of ways.
The human race has surrounded itself with wide spectrum of technologies that on the whole keep us moving from one time segment to the next in an ever increasing spiral. Faster, better, smoother, easier and so on…our racial motto perhaps? Now I’m not saying we should abandon technology, but I do wonder how many of us actually enjoy or even thrive in the moment itself rather than considering the future. Some might argue that there isn’t enough time, but there is. You have an insanely short time on this planet and it should not be spent dashing from one event to the next without pause.
I guess my thoughts here are based around the use of time, how we travel through it and what we do to enjoy it. If you find yourself thinking: “there is never enough time” take a step back, it won’t kill you. Stop and look around you, let your mind, body and spirit snap back into position, live that one moment for what it is. A memory created specifically about that one single moment, and you will remember it more so than a meeting you had that morning because you are aware of slowing down, taking in the sights/sounds/smells around you, for better or worse.
Whilst travelling on a bus today I was planning the following events, thinking ahead to what will come. I was listening to music on headphones and the sun was hot through the window. I wasn’t paying attention to anything in particular other than the list inside my head. An elderly lady on the seat next to me dropped her bag and I bent down to pick it up for her. Just for a moment she looked at me with gratitude and said thank you. Not hearing her words, as I was listening to music, I smiled and nodded at her.
I removed my earphones and looked out of the window. There were tractors in the fields and birds swooping down snatching at the grain. I looked out across the countryside, the skies with patchy clouds, the buildings in the distance. I took it all in. Instead of feeling a slight sense on annoyance over the loud bus engine I listened to the roar and slight clank clank sound, and the sound of the man on the seat in front of me thoroughly enjoying a bag of sweets, the rustle of the packet in his hand.
All these things pass by every day, yet from that one momentary contact with the elderly lady I was aware of the world around me, of my own existence. It may seem like romantic slush or spiritual mumbo-jumbo but I felt centred and calm for a few minutes. I don’t have the capacity to describe what “being centred” is, someone else surely can, but I know that is what happened. The phrase and meaning fits the event. And no, it wasn’t a revelation and God didn’t speak to me!
I knew I had truly lived in that single moment. An unforgettable moment for me, one which I know now won’t be forgotten despite its everyday ordinariness. Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone could do that just once a day or even just once every now and then? And be aware of it. If everyone could stow down, find their centre, thrive in that one pure moment before moving on, I think a lot more people would be happier for it.
Everyone has read a report of this kind before, either from an ageing technophobic spinster or some self appointed spiritual leader. They pop up on the TV or newspapers or online and have this air about them that says: “I know the truth, and you are all too blind to see it.” They seem to take delight in trying to point out how mankind is becoming increasingly disconnected from its brothers and sisters, that we simply don’t “connect” enough anymore and it will only ever get worse.
They wail and rant about the nasty devices we are all linked to as part of our everyday lives, the mobile phone, the Internet, email, chat rooms, virtual worlds, forums and so on. We don’t spend enough “face time” with one another anymore, there’s no real life connection as we all prefer to hide behind our computer screens and interact at a distance.
There is also an element of doomsday about these reports. It’s as if one day mankind will be reduced to a population born, raised and exists by being plugged into one machine or another and will never enjoy the truly magical range of human emotions; hugging, kissing, laughing together, consoling someone, making love, sharing a…(insert cliched experience here) …together.
I have a response to this uneducated outlook on life, and it comes in the form of a question:
How connected were we before technology supposedly stole our souls?
Give it some thought. Pre-Internet, pre-mobile phones, pre-email, pre-virtual worlds – what did we do? How did we interact with each other? And did we really connect all that much or in any other way than we do now? Okay, the basics, we had limited choice over how we connected with each other via communicative methods. We had face to face verbal/physical contact, phone, letters, television and radio (in more recent history).
Going back further when some methods were not yet available. Letters and face to face was all we had. Nice. So we spent more time in each others company? Did we really? Maybe not. I believe the human condition does not allow for prolonged periods of time spent physically with each other. We need “space” and “alone time” even back when we hung around in caves and chucked spears at hairy beasts.
We isolate ourselves on purpose to protect each other. Can you honestly say you could stand to be around someone 24/7? Surely those sad, fame obsessed dorks from TVs Big Brother have proved that any length of time with someone will drive even the most hellbent pacifist to outbursts of chaotic anger. We crave attention, we need to be acknowledged in one form or another at various times of our lives but not in a continuous stream.
Modern technology gives us the ability to choose when, where, how and why we want to communicate with others. We decide every step of the way how our own universe interacts with another persons. For those fortunate to live in parts of the world who have access to those choice-giving bits of technology, we’re not forced into it anymore. In the views of many anti technology enthusiasts choice has been cast aside for something more evil; addiction, isolation, loneliness.
Think of all the methods we now have at our disposal that allow us to actually reach out and touch another human being you wouldn’t have been able to do 100 years ago. To name but a few; from social networking websites to image galleries, online photo albums, millions of forums covering unlimited topics, even virtual worlds bring people together from all over the world.
All of these and more give us the choice to contact other people, and you know what? People do in fact use them to make actual physical contact. Like minded people meet up, strangers in the real world but possibly through long established virtual friendships. An awesome world of possibility!
My argument might be biased since I think the world of connectivity through so many avenues is an amazing experience not to be missed. But I remain neutral and consider the how’s and what ifs, yet I truly believe that we live in an age where it is actually easier to connect with anyone than ever before. And maybe our lives are more enriched now than ever before.
Sure there are a million arguments against my thoughts on this subject but since you are reading this (and have the ability to reply) doesn’t that mean that you now have a choice over whether you want to make a connection with me?
To get this all started in the right way I should point out a few basic things about me and what I want to achieve from this blog. Other than mucking about with a few other blog applications online this is my first attempt at putting my thoughts into some sort of order.
I won’t attempt to be the worlds best speller or master of grammar, that’s not the purpose here, so excuse me if my English isn’t perfect. Before you read any of my thoughts you should know that I am not an angry, unhappy person at heart. That bodes well doesn’t it? I am indeed a positive and cheery type, I look at the world with optimism if slightly tinged with skepticism. I write what I feel, and make no apologies for that. I find humor and sadness everywhere, the good and bad are connected with every thought and action we make.
Occasionally I am a touch “deep” but generally speaking I just ramble on, muttering to myself in the hope that whatever topic buzzing inside my head will find its way down my arms, through my fingers and onto the screen before me, thus sucking it away and making room for something else to muse on.
With so much to “blog” about I don’t feel the need to stick to one particular subject, as I prefer to explore whatever happens to be running through my brain at the time. So before I start I would like you to read a poem (of sorts) that I hold dear to me ever since I was a small boy. This was displayed in a frame in the Dads house for many years, and may still be there.
As a child it seemed very old, the calligraphy was very ornate, seemingly medieval to my young eyes. This in itself was a challenge, deciphering the letters in order to understand the words and the meaning. I’m not a new age hippy or deeply spiritual person but the imagery conjured by the words meant a lot to me while growing up, and still do. Maybe I consider it to be a guide of sorts, or a mantra, or just good advice to those who seek to make sense of it all.
- Max Ehrmanna
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.