Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a minimalist, an unapologetic proponent of order who despises clutter with a vengeance. Of course though, I am not dogmatic about it. You won't find me in a deep depression or frozen with frustration upon encountering disorganization, hiding in the corner mumbling random musings about spatial considerations. However, striving to be reasonably organized absolutely helps me to be focused and effective in my pursuits. It aids in my navigation of life's hills and valleys. Having said all of this, I similarly like to keep things simple or "breezy," as it could also be stated. Running to and fro like a freshly decapitated fowl just isn't appealing, so my soul rejoices in the belief that less is more.
Nonetheless, the majority of people that I know or otherwise purely observe from afar seem to live as though more is more, and even still, more is never truly enough. They mean well, I am sure, but have an insatiable yearning to consume and be consumed, to constantly multitask. Living in a society that places tremendous value on people going and going and going, in the tradition of the Energizer Bunny, is disconcerting. With the promotion of all of this excessive going we are contributing to moral delinquency, producing people who think too highly of themselves and their affairs. Multitasking in itself isn't the problem so much, as I see it, but rather the embedded lifestyle therein that renders so many people socially obtuse zombies. No one should run on autopilot or be that hectic that often. It isn't healthy in any category.
Odds are that you know these people well. They are family members, friends, co-workers, and children. Other times, perhaps all of the time, we are the most egregious violators. In the mall there is a woman talking loudly on her cell phone for all to hear despite lying in the horizontal position necessary for her eyebrow threading. I hear echoes of MADtv's character Bon Qui Qui (played by Anjelah Johnson) saying, "Rude!" Every time a tummy ache, random thought, or schedule change occurs for some ridiculous reason we feel compelled to update our status, to share countless impromptu cell phone photos through Instagram, as if a legion of likes and followers produce significance or authentic communication.
There is the daddy daycare father sitting on the park bench pounding away on his tablet PC while his toddler taste tests sand. Those ghastly Roman soldier sandals that are today's rage frequently belong to women of all ages and from all walks of life who, ignoring any concept of safety or security, prance about texting, jaywalking, and carrying-on jagged cell phone conversations in public spaces, which is both annoying and silly. They are not to be outdone, however, by the smoking gas station attendant whose BlackBerry unfortunately commands more attention than our need to put $60 on pump number three.
By now we should know that busyness doesn't equal productivity or importance. Lord knows, however, that we are remedial in our understanding of this. We pride ourselves on being busy, but what pray tell is it that we are so busy doing? And what about all of it is that important that we have to be doing so much of it simultaneously?
I believe that we are quickly moving into an era where people are savvy in most things technological but deficient in most things meaningful. I am by no means anti-technology. I, too, am an active participant in cyberspace and have a smartphone. According to Egyptian Coptic monk, Ruwais el-Anthony, "There's nothing wrong with microwaves or mobile phones -- they save time. But God will ask you what you have done with the time you have saved."
It has become so bad that these days even in retirement's so-called golden years we hardly get the picture. No longer about slowing down, now it is about traversing the globe trying to fulfill our coveted bucket list in order to then share the news of our journeys through social media before death comes knocking. We ought to be human beings rather than human doings who lack the desire or skill to turn ourselves off a bit, pump our breaks, and focus on one thing at a time. Like Tamar from "Braxton Family Values" would say, "Get your life!"
For more by Rev. James Ellis, III, click here.
For more on mindfulness, click here.