Have you noticed lately how complicated life has become? I’ve been giving this a lot of thought recently. From my perspective, it is a confluence of multiple factors that is sucking the life out of people and complicating their thoughts, leading to a pervasive malaise which hangs like a gossamer curtain over our consciousness. I use the term gossamer because we associate it with something light and airy floating on the breeze, but it can also get entangled in things and stick to them.
There are so many words, so many images, so many causes that we are now aware of; so much more information that we have to sort through and keep or discard, examine and determine the import of it. Historically we had input from our family that was close by, our town or city, our state, maybe letters from family members that spread out from our location, and our country. Today we have 24/7 access to everywhere and everything. I can be notified that the Solomon Islands are experiencing an earthquake and possible tsunami concurrently with an alert that a huge nor’easter is preparing to pummel the coastal states via Twitter. I get E-mail giving the status of wars in the Middle East, stock fluctuations in the EU and how Russia is about to ban importation of our poultry because of a feed supplement. My daughters can advise their location and send me a photo of their surroundings, my Mom can call and say she’s running late and my brother can text that his son is feeling better – and all of this occurs on a device that sits benignly in the palm of my hand with no outward indication of its gossamer entanglements.
None of these information streams are inherently bad. But how are we handling it? What additional stress forms in our minds and bodies about things we simply cannot impact? We now have the weight of the globe resting upon our shoulders and rather than spurring us to act, often it leaves us paralyzed instead. We are overwhelmed mentally and emotionally. Technology, like all other things, can be used for good or bad. Sasha Dicter wrote about technology bubbles back in mid-January and it made me think. When is the last time you left your technology behind and walked in the outdoors, even for just an hour? What about for a day? When is the last time you looked around and did not see someone staring at their electronic device? We use them in our cars, in our offices, at the grocery store, when we are dining out, and even when we are interacting face-to-face with other people. Are they adding to, or taking away from our lives? Most of this post is rhetorical; I have no solutions to offer up to end the mental malaise we are under other than to suggest to unplug, even for just a little while and re-connect to the creation. Watch a butterfly. Identify a bird. Pick up a leaf and notice its intricacy. Close your eyes and feel the breeze on your skin. Rest your neurons and just be.
As an example for good use of technology, I encourage everyone to join in the Generosity Day activities going on 2/11/2013. The first person to be generous towards is yourself – forget your shortcomings or failures for a moment and celebrate one thing that you are proud of inside of your heart. That will then free up some generosity for others. You may surprise yourself.
“There is a tonic strength, in the hour of sorrow and affliction, in escaping from the world and society and getting back to the simple duties and interests we have slighted and forgotten. Our world grows smaller, but it grows dearer and greater. Simple things have a new charm for us, and we suddenly realize that we have been renouncing all that is greatest and best, in our pursuit of some phantom.”
― William George Jordan