If you’re over a certain age, have you noticed that nothing stops anymore? I imagine that younger folks may not even notice, in fact, some of them may still profess to be bored.
I’ve been down with the flu this week, so I made myself stop. I kept myself from getting sicker and got some rest. Even then, my mind didn’t stop thinking about what I was missing at work, the emails that showed up on my phone, what I needed to read next for school. My mind whirred, but my body needed rest. I had rather stress-filled dreams instead. However, I think I’ve recovered quicker by stopping – and I’ve kept the germs away from my coworkers.
Even before I got sick, I was thinking about how nothing stops in this time. The Superbowl this year was fantastic – I watched it in a hotel room while writing a report for school. It used to be that people would stop because “their TV show” was on. I used to stop for Star Trek. Now I’m binge watching Deep Space Nine because I wasn’t feeling well enough to do anything else. Work used to have a finite start and stop time. It doesn’t now – my phone goes off with email and phone calls all times of day. Even more so now that we’ve gone to split shifts with folks working from 4am to 10pm…or more. Newspapers and coffee used to be a morning (or afternoon paper and tea) ritual, as opposed to flipping through headlines on one’s phone. The school down the street asks for families to have dinner together….because most families are moving so fast they can’t have a meal together once a day.
Fifteen years ago, I stopped by the train tracks in Benson, Arizona and taught my Boy Scouts how to flatten pennies on the train tracks. Boys have been flattening pennies on train tracks for decades, even though it’s an out of vogue pastime now. My boys had an incredibly difficult time waiting for the next train. They wanted to know WHEN it was coming. They had to know. It was outside of their experience when I said, “I don’t know, but I do know there’s at least one train an hour through here, often more. We just have to wait.”
Stopping. Waiting. Listening. Those are all things that have become harder to do in this fast paced world. It’s sped up on us slowly enough that we’re the frogs who were enjoying the warm water and didn’t realize it when it got to a boil.
I made time last week to go to the gym, and mentioned to a coworker that I was going to go and come back in a bit who then lamented that I was lucky and that she didn’t have time. A few months ago, I made that same “I don’t have time” comment to someone else. I’m not lucky – I’m MAKING time. I have a personal goal that I need to reach to enable more goals.
I’m learning, the hard way, that in this brave new world that we have, a world where we’re always connected by computers, work never really stops, entertainment is always on-demand and available, and the culture pushes us all to continually stay busy, connected, snapping and chatting….we have to learn to draw our own lines. We are the only ones who can make ourselves stop, wait, and listen. We need to define our time and our time limits as well as teach and enable others to do so as well. Who’s driving this train, anyway?