I’ve been feeling “old”. Not physically old because my body doesn’t perform like I expect it to, although I am noticing changes there. Not mentally old because my mind isn’t as sharp as it once was, although my memory isn’t what it was when I was 20. I feel socially old. I feel like my attitudes are the same as I heard my great-grandmother express during my childhood. She used to say that people ate too fast, drove too fast, didn’t take the time to listen, and were always in a hurry. This isn’t a new feeling for me. It’s been lurking around for a few years. There is a lot of pressure in my life to do more, be more, have more. It has become socially unacceptable to say “no thank you, perhaps next time” if I cannot justify my answer by citing another binding engagement. Putting in 40 hours of honest work a week (the amount I’m paid to do, and the amount the center can charge contracts for my effort) and leaving work at work is seen as lacking a work ethic. People are annoyed at me for driving the posted speed limit. I’m “unreachable” if there is not a cell phone clipped to my body that I will drop whatever I’m doing to answer. People look at me with puzzlement because I’d rather keep using something that works than buy the latest thing.
We are living hectic lives. There is precious little time for anything and the truly nourishing things are easily squeezed out. In all this rush for “more” perspective is lost. There is no understanding of where the “more” comes from and what it actually means and costs to have, to be, to do more of a particular thing.
Something has to give!
Something is going to give, in fact many things are going to give and we are starting to see it happen. There is a lot of talk about the economy such as the weakening dollar, the price of oil, the sub-prime loan issue; the environment, including global warming, pollution, and solutions that cause more problems than they solve; social issues like health care and education. These seem to me to be symptoms of the “must have more, be more, do more” mind set. It also seems to me that the conversations around these issues rarely recognize the role choice plays and that each option from which we could choose has a cost.
In several places I’ve seen a question asked: Are people willing to make changes, sacrifices to find the right solutions? It seems people are saying they are willing, but I’m not seeing it. What I am seeing are a lot of symptoms (see list of issues above) and for which the cures are going to be forced on people.
Obviously, if my great-grandmother was saying the same things I’m thinking, this pattern has been going on for a while. I’d like to chalk it up to changing perspective that comes with age. I admit that life experience has changed my perspective on things. However, I can’t attribute it solely to my age when the difference between what I thought was “busy” at 15 is different than what my daughter thinks is “busy” at 15. Perhaps the pattern is not on the scale of decades or even human lifetimes; perhaps the pattern is on the scale of centuries and there has been a long build up to this point and there will be a response but it will seem, to me, slow in coming. Perhaps I’ve missed the point all together and I can’t see the forest of human nature for all the trees of issues that are the same no matter what era a person lives in.