I wonder what Gandhi would think of the world today. As for me, I find the world speeding towards a very uncertain outcome, the human equivalent of lemmings rushing to the sea. We seem to be hellbent on getting to the next great moment of our existence even before we have fully appreciated the moment we are in. Why is that so important?
It’s as if we crave something new without any regard for what we have already. Multi-tasking has become a way of life and to what end? By shaving precious seconds off each task we hope to be able to accomplish even more, but some times those precious seconds are the difference between a good moment and a great one. The famous photographer, Ansel Adams, was well-known for his patience. He studied his shots for days to make sure he was getting the best sunlight, shadows and detail that would make each photo something special. He never worried about how many shots he could take, he just focused on making each one count. Wouldn’t you agree, he did it better than almost anybody?
It takes time to do it right, there are no shortcuts to greatness. Shakespeare would be shocked to see us bastardize the English language for no more reason than, “I was in a hurry.” A hurry for what, so you can rent another $4 cup of coffee at the drive-thru? You can’t own a cup of coffee but you can own your thoughts and your values. Of course, thoughts and values are only acquired through careful consideration and significant self-examination. Reflection requires effort and diligence but the rewards are with you always.
My grandfather, Guy McClintick, was a very quiet man with a great perspective on what really mattered. When he wasn’t hard at work, you could tell he was hard at thought. He observed nature and responded accordingly. He didn’t get surprised by much and he always seemed to have the answer to every problem before it happened. He was not much for multi-tasking because most of his chores were somewhat dangerous and required attention to detail, but he always finished what he started. There’s a lesson to be learned there. Do it right the first time and you will always have more time left over to have some fun.
My best guess is that today we have it backwards and we put the fun first before the work gets done. To me that sounds like a formula for disaster. Not much happens in the world unless some one, some where is willing to put out the effort to make it happen. The truth is we wouldn’t even have the power to run the internet if we didn’t have coal miners risking their lives to produce coal for power plants to produce electricity. We take so much for granted these days but none of that is guaranteed to be here tomorrow if we only want to have fun.
My Dad used to tell me, “It’s not really hard work if you love what you’re doing.” I don’t live for my next cup of coffee or the newest cellphone. I live for my thoughts and the freedom I have to write this blog. I work to provide the means to be happy but I don’t need that much to make me happy. The time it takes to pull together my thoughts and convey them as artfully as possible is time well spent and gives meaning to my life that no material possession ever will.
When I’m writing, it’s as if my life slows down to a crawl and it feels really good to be so caught up in the process that time stands still. I can understand Ansel Adams and the sheer joy he got from each incredible shot. He earned his self-satisfaction the hard way and no one will ever say he wasted his time. Isn’t that what life is for, to make a difference, to achieve something that lasts beyond our own lifespan? I seriously doubt that we are ever going to remember the world’s greatest multi-tasker/coffee drinker/I-phone user.
So the question is really this simple. What do you want your life to be remembered for, how fast you got done or how much meaningful enjoyment you got out of it? Here’s my favorite quote on the subject of a successful life, “He has achieved much success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much.” (Elbert Hubbard) All of us can achieve that kind of success and I sincerely hope we all do.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content