to the woods
water, cashews, pears, a sandwich and a beer in my knapsack and i am gone.
“Clever, ambitious, and always in search of greater efficiency, we Americans have, in two short centuries, created a world of push button, round the clock comfort for ourselves. The basic needs of humanity - food, clothing, shelter, entertainment, transportation, and even sexual pleasure - no longer need to be personally labored for or ritualized or even understood. All these things are available to us now for mere cash. Or credit. Which means that nobody needs to know how to do anything any more, except the one narrow skill that will earn enough money to pay for the conveniences and services of modern living.
But in replacing every challenge with a short cut we seem to have lost something and Eustace isn’t the only person feeling that loss. We are an increasingly depressed and anxious people - and not for nothing. Arguably, all these modern conveniences have been adopted to save us time. But time for what? Having created a system that tends to our every need without causing us undue exertion or labor, we can now fill those hours with…?”
In this age of the quantified self, we measure how many hours we slept, steps we took, calories we burned. Yet we know nothing about ourselves. We spend more time checking-in to our stats than our souls. Our experience is mined for data but not depth. We have all these numbers to improve now, but no idea how to dial back the numbness.
Life doesn’t have to be a spreadsheet, yet our useless fascination goes on. We spend more time shopping, in considering the thread-count of our sheets before purchase, than we do soul-searching, that beautiful art of thinking about the quality and purpose of our lives.
We are addicted to the constant digital stream, often peering gape-mouthed into the sordid details of other people’s lives; in the process we have checked-out of reality, neglecting our own life so pregnant with potential and meaning.
If we are to measure and monitor and improve anything, let it be our presence and character, a mindfulness for who we are and how we are experiencing and relating with the world. Have I been true to myself? Have I lived vibrantly today? Have I loved openly today? Have I made a difference today? Let us check in to ourselves in these ways; for, in the end, these are the only measures that matter.