We have become time masochists, robbing ourselves of the opportunity to live more meaningful lives.
We live in sound bites. Tweets. Instant messages. We’re irked we have to wait 10 seconds to buy things with our new smart chip cards. I read recently that the average person’s attention span is less than three minutes, and it’s getting shorter. We run from task to task, meeting to meeting, trying to accomplish as much as we can. But at the end of the day, what do we have to show for it?
My husband and I take walks. We walk the same three-mile circuit several times a week. And inevitably, he will pick up several coins along the way. He’s like a human metal detector. It’s amazing. Lately, it’s been pennies. We speculate people have no value for them anymore. I sense the same thing about time. We’re suffering from time inflation. What used to take a day, weeks or even years, can now be accomplished in minutes or seconds. The tools we have created to aid in development – high performance computing, graphic design software, CAD systems, are enabling us to develop at speeds unimaginable even ten years ago.
But we’re forgetting one important thing, the one constant throughout all of this high-tech, speed-enhancing innovation. The human element. Apps don’t generate ideas, people do. And idea generation takes time.
I recently discovered this two-minute video, which illustrates my point brilliantly:
We’re robbing ourselves of time to think meaningful thoughts. And more important, to feel. When was the last time you just sat, quietly, and were simply present in the moment? Allowing yourself to unwind, to feel what’s in your heart? You might find fear, or anxiety, or sadness. It’s hard, but it’s real.
If you’re like me, your mind is constantly racing, contemplating your next move. Dinner reservations for tonight. Flight reservations for next weekend. Earnings week next week at work. Yikes. I need to create those slides. I have to make myself stop. Breathe. And focus. Break through the chaos that is my everyday life and decide what I want to focus on, right now. What, of all of that, is truly meaningful?
At the end of my life, I want something real to show for it. I am not sure what that is yet, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be measured in the number of tweets I generated.