Some of you may remember the overnight radio host of Coast to Coast, Art Bell. About 15 years ago, he wrote a book called, “The Quickening”. Love him or hate him, it was an interesting read. I spotted it on my bookshelf a few days ago and remembered one of the assertions he made in the book. That things were moving at a furious pace. That there had been more innovation and invention in the last decade than there had been in the last century. As a result of all the new technology, we are all more connected, regulated, and otherwise burdened by the very things that were supposed to make our lives easier…simpler. Instead of being rewarded with more time to do the things we like, we find ourselves in the position of having to do more than we could have ever imagined. Can anyone tell me that their lives are simpler or that they have more free time than ever before? Unless you are retired, you, like most of us…..are just trying to keep up with the demands that new technologies have placed on you. Nearly all respondents to a recent survey admitted that they check work email, daily, while on vacation. Others acknowledge their social media addiction and “Check in” constantly. Is this a bad thing? It depends on your point of view. If you feel the need to post that you had pancakes for breakfast or that you’re five-year-old graduated from Kindergarten, I’m ok with that. Go for it. There may be those among us who without Facebook, for example, may never have come from the shadows and communicated with others face to face. Plucked from obscurity and suddenly communicating with the world.
We are all wired differently. Frequently, in conversations with people, I hear these words. “I had meant to get in touch with you, but I have just been SO busy”. THAT may be our problem. Example: You’ve had a full day and then some. You are tired. It’s much easier to go thru the “Drive-Thru” than it is to shop and prepare a healthy meal for the family to enjoy together. Throw a sack at the kids and try to find a few minutes of peace to decompress. The sad result is fat kids who withdraw and don’t communicate very well. This isn’t a lecture. Just an observation. I do remember times when things weren’t moving as rapidly. At one time, (before smartphones, email and the rest, our family had a little log cabin on a lake in the woods. The youngest of my four sons, Jordan and I were sitting by a campfire poking sticks into the embers as darkness came upon us. Far away from any city or artificial light, Jordan (Who was just a little guy, about six at the time) Looked up in amazement at the blanket of bright stars in the sky and asked how many there were? Should we count them, I asked? Yeah, he said. So we laid there together in the tall grass counting stars until he fell asleep and I carried him to bed. The boys all grew up, discovered sports and cars and girls, and the cabin was eventually sold. Things constantly change. That’s nature. But remember, Life isn’t ALL about how much you got done at work today, how many contacts you made, how many emails you returned or how many widgets you sold. It’s not all about miles per gallon or how many Facebook likes you have. Technology is a wondrous thing. Used properly, it can make us more productive, and the possibilities seem almost limitless. But the greatest gift, the most powerful advantage we have, are the things that make us HUMAN.
The race to the top of your field can be challenging, rewarding and profitable too. Those things are important. But don’t forget to slow down once in a while.
I have long forgotten all the new bells and whistles on that ancient blackberry that I had ten years ago. But I will never forget one quiet night in the woods, counting stars with that little boy in my arms.