Tag Archives: evolution

The Consequence of Inaction

As we race to outrun imaginary deadlines set by our own unbending need to measure achievement and self-worth against an arbitrary yardstick, I can’t help but think of the mountains of wasted minutes that sit in a heap at our feet.

We’re always late, rushed, cramming far too much into far too small a window, and wondering how morning seems to sneakily turn into afternoon. We complain that “there are never enough hours in a day” and we lament an adjusted project deliverable date like it’s the end of life as we know it.

But how much of the blame sits on our shoulders? If we factor in countless distractions, daydreaming, social media addiction, and procrastination, how much more time would be available for real productivity? Is it simply a part of the human condition to crave a focus reset or soothe an overworked brain with mindless activity? Or has a society that’s built on the backbone of a dwindling collective attention span created manic little monsters who feel like they’re tackling task after task when they’re simply spinning circles in the sand?

As eye contact, basic social skills, and the English language continue to die a speedy death, I’d probably go with the latter. On a macrocosmic level, that’s pretty terrifying. But maybe the demands of a modern workplace are simply setting the foundation for a technological future in which we all function like poorly programmed robots, unable to attend meetings, complete assignments, or even arrive on time without megadoses of psychotropics buzzing in our bloodstreams.

Evolution? Hmmm…

We’re hurtling toward The Singularity, and I’m sure all these tendencies will be wildly useful when we merge man and machine, but there’s still a piece of me that thinks there’s something pretty special about a handcrafted wooden table, and the skill and focus required to start and finish.

Adolescence Interrupted

Advertisements

The Inoperable Pause

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Recently, there was a study done proposing that most people tend to live in the moment, with little worry about past trouble or the future consequences from present actions. Even when shown a timeline of past difficulties, unanticipated bumps that lined the road, or undeniable proof that life was anything but smooth, it was human nature for participants to project positivity. They couldn’t anticipate the pitfalls, only the victories.

We want to believe that there is always a better version of the world waiting for us. We want to trust that the work we do to improve ourselves and our surroundings will lay the foundation for some distant attainment of self-satisfaction, comfort, or achievement. The energy put into the process should be directly related to the spoils gained at the finish line. Well, it’s not.

As we sprint after rabbits like greyhounds in the ring, life is disappearing with each passing lap. Eyes stubbornly fixed on the horizon, we’re stumbling over the sidewalk at our feet. We are forsaking today for tomorrow, while the planet—and its need for speed around the sun—is ignoring our desire for a reduced pace to accomplish these goals.

Life is constantly in flux. The moments we want to hold forever last for flashes. By the time we’re fully appreciating the significance of the situation, it disappears. Single friends start to marry. Sweatpants are replaced by suits. Freedom is limited by families and responsibilities. Stasis is a concept, not a reality.

Embracing each event and living in the present are notions as old as time itself, but when we carefully examine the particular context of that advice, the picture comes into sharper focus. This is more than the normal evolutionary process of aging. A specific feeling and mood are lost with each clock’s round trip. There’s a palpable shift in the dynamic, and that shift can bring about feelings of loss and regret that far outweigh the joy.

So hold tightly to the good stuff when it surfaces. Chances are it will be long gone before you realize it was even there.

Adolescence Interrupted

The Human Life of Progress

EvolutionA large part of my day is spent observing and asking questions. This isn’t necessarily the most carefree way to spend my time, but I shuffle the cards I’ve been dealt.

Lately, there has been one particular concept rattling around in this crowded cranium that I find interesting and, most likely, impossible to resolve. Is our species inherently made to feel like we are constantly evolving? Do we possess some programming imprint to make us believe we have learned from our past mistakes, and are now rigidly embracing the present?

I bring up this question because it seems like we are inundated with messages about the latest “thing” being the only important commodity to consider.

Musicians talk about their new sound and its grand departure from their previous efforts. Writers wax philosophical about inspiration crafting their work in a more powerful direction. Filmmakers preach about their past catalog helping to usher in a new landscape and motivation for their art. Painters eschew earlier efforts, claiming they can finally see the canvas with honest eyes.

But, the creatives aren’t the only guilty ones. How many times do you hear someone in his 30’s reminiscing about his wild 20’s? Just as often as someone in her 40’s lamenting the wistful wandering of her 30’s. The retired look back at youth with a detached disbelief, and the elderly study the middle-aged with a perplexing mix of envy and pity.

We always think we are precisely where we’re intended. Obviously, on a microcosm, this notion is brought into question on a daily basis. But, when we step outside the narrow focus of our lives, we rarely yearn for  experiences had or roads traveled. Moments exist in specific times, for specific reasons.

On a quest of self-evolution, there is a part of us that is content with the progress we’ve achieved and open for the possibilities of what lies in waiting.

We trust that the decisions we make today come from the learned lessons of yesterday’s stumbles. We try to smile at the past and not pine for it. We see the present as a culmination of errors and triumphs and dreams of what once was, sprinkled with aspirations of the future. We allow hope and resolve to fill our mornings and the pledge for a better purpose to usher in our nights.

We ask a lot of ourselves, and demand movement and growth. Believing we’re evolving is the easy part. The real challenge is floating in space at 1,000 miles an hour, trying to stay grounded.