I remember the world before computers. Just vaguely. I have to really think back. When they began to arrive, we thought they were just something for big business, but then in about the 1970’s we began to see the first versions of home computers. I was so excited when I read about the TRS 80. I rushed out, got a high interest loan, and went and bought one. If you’ve ever seen one, you’d wonder what we were so excited about. By today’s standards, calling them pathetic would be a compliment. But they were a promise of amazing things to come.
One of the big promises of a world in which computers were ubiquitous, was that they would make our lives easier. We would go paperless. We would have more leisure time. They would do much of our work for us. I don’t think the lie was intentional. The people saying this really believed it.
We now know the truth. Computers didn’t make our lives easier; they ultimately facilitated a more complex life. They created a world where everything moves faster. Where life is, and continues to become, exponentially more complex. And now that this future is here, it is near impossible to extract ourselves from it. We are so hooked that most of us would never make the attempt anyway. What would we do without our internet? How did people function without it in the “Olden days?”
And it’s OK. There has been a lot of good things come from computers. But like many things, it’s a matter of balance. We need to consciously not get swept away. Put on the brakes, divert our attention to other things.
Balance. Instant gratification sounds good, but there are things in life that you just can’t do well quickly.
Health is one. We’ve slowly become a society of fatter and fatter people. It is killing us. Now we want a pill, a button, an operation, that will instantly make us thin again. But inside we know this won’t work. We try to convince ourselves it will. We deny what deep inside we know. In order for it to stick we need to change back to who we want to be slowly. We need to lose 5 pounds a month, not in a week or a day. We need to reclaim our healthy habits slowly for them to become a part of us. This is what they mean when they tell us it’s a “Lifestyle change.”
Money is another. We want to be rich fast. Win the lottery today, buy the new house, car, trips tomorrow. It doesn’t work. As I’ve said so many times, there are lessons that come with having money, and in order to have it, and keep it, we need to learn them.
We live in a world now where there is a range of goods available that could never before have been dreamed of. We want it all. Now. It’s like a buffet of gourmet foods, with dozens of mouthwatering desserts. We want one of all of them. We gorge ourselves until we can’t eat anymore. What we don’t seem to realize is that we would get just as much pleasure from selecting one nice big piece of Bavarian Chocolate Cake, and eating it very slowly with our eyes closed, savoring every morsel.
So maybe it’s time to slow down. Do less, but do it better. Have less quantity, and more quality. Enjoy what we have, rather than work ourselves to the bone at a frenzied pace to get more.
So do less today, but do it well.
And maybe do it with a friend.
A quick shout out to some sites that I have benefited from:
Zen Habits: If you been surfing a while then you’ve likely come across Leo Babauto’s site. One of the things I like best about Leo is that he is authentic.
Dreamhost: Thinking of starting a blog? This is my hosting company and they’ve been excellent. Check them out.