In the age of urgency
When I was growing up, I felt like things took forever (a very long time, obviously not ‘forever’). I couldn’t wait for shcool to end, summer to start, video games to be released, repeat every year.
Then at some point, things changed. I’m going to say around when I was in college, suddenly things flew by. Sure some classes seemed to defy the laws of physics and took twice as long as the 50 minutes they were supposed to, but suddenly it seemed like time was slowly vanishing here or there.
Now as an adult (which for some reason still weirds me out to call myself an adult), I feel like whoever had the remote control for life pressed fast forward cause things were boring and they broke the damn thing. It feels like each day passes by slightly faster than the last despite NASA saying otherwise. I guess this is what getting older is like. I’m not a fan, but I’ve noticed that it might have something to do with our perception of how things operate.
I remember when it used to take around 15 minutes to download a 4 minute decent quality MP3. You could do something else online, but if you did, it meant even longer. So you probably did something else to pass the time. In fact, in the 56k internet days, everyone probably had something they did as things downloaded. Anyone using any P2P client probably remembers leaving things connected all night. Then cable internet / DSL arrived and made P2P even better and things slowly got faster. As things got faster, computing got way faster, suddenly multiple cores ended up on computers, Multi-core computers have been around for awhile, but usually they were discrete separate chips and were very expensive. For the price of today’s MacBook Air, you probably could not afford a basic configuration used for most servers (I really have no facts to defend this claim, I am merely retro-guessing).
Most things these days are instant, close to it, or have some mechanism to offer immediate gratification before fully being available. Thanks to compression technologies, higher power CPU’s, and everyone having more technology in their pocket than the first supercomputers, we have a world of information available at any moment. We can be connected to anyone, anywhere, so long as they aren’t busy.
Which is what this is really about, being busy. We have many things calling for our attention every day. I can’t really remember a time when I was truly ‘bored’. If anything, now I have a sense of paranoia if whatever is happening around me doesn’t have my attention.
“Did I leave the oven on?” Do I owe any work to client X?” “Did I send an invoice for last week’s work?” “Did I remember to pay myself” “Did I pay all the bills”. There’s very little time to pay attention to time (at least throughout my day). I find myself looking at the clock saying ‘I only have 5 hours left to do stuff today?!’ vs ‘I have enough time to do anything.’.
I know I’ve taken on a lot and I keep on over-committing myself to a fault, but I find it fascinating that I have been busy enough that I have never used the phrase ‘I’m bored’ in my adult life.
Lack of boredom must be a reason why meditation has become a go-to method for people that keep busy. Boredom frees the mind to be conscious, but at the same time not so overly focused on one thing. There’s a liberating moment that happens when the mind is free to just ‘be’. This is often a time where one can be inspired, or think up a new thing to try.
I think I’d rather be busy than bored and stick to meditation as a means to regain whatever I lose by not being bored. I sometimes miss being bored, but those times are minimal as I don’t have the time to spend longing for simpler times.