Another old ‘advent’ post – this was originally posted in December 2014.
Western culture is addicted to speed.
I don’t mean the substance; I mean the movement, the pace of life. The concept. I might rephrase it and say: we are addicted to hurry. To rush.
Our brains have got used to the instant. There are many wonders in our technological age and much to be thankful for. But we have begun to flick and skim rather than pause and reflect. If that seems unfair, perhaps I should again rephrase: it is easier to flick through things, to skim things. There’s so much out there; we end up looking this way and that, and for those of us who are easily distracted (waving hand in air) the temptation is not to dig deeper into one thing but try and grab a bit of everything. Like a syllabus with so many topics there’s no way we can become an expert in any of them.
But more than that: there is an expectation, too. We believe our worth is built by our busyness, that achievement is a primary goal of life. We build and use time-saving things in order to make time to DO MORE THINGS.
I wonder, what if we used them so that we could…get more rest? Slow down our minds? Recharge?
(I wonder, sometimes, if we have forgotten the potential of boredom. In many ways we bore more easily when we are used to constant diversion. But equally, we rush to fill our bored moments with more diversion and more distraction. But the discomfort of boredom could, if we let it, lead to deeper thought and discovery as we allow ourselves to stay in the moment, to grasp for something deeper…that restlessness can lead to unexpected creativity, innovation. But instead we just reach for another mediocre distraction to fill the moment.)
I need interrupters. Triggers that break through my hurry and remind me of pause. Actually, our Christmas tree does this for me. The quietness of it, the still white lights (I don’t do blue or flashing!) – they help me…breathe…in a metaphorical way.
This Advent, perhaps we can identify the things around us as interrupters, things that bring us back – halt us in the hurry and the kerfuffle we have been told is ‘normal’ or even worthy.
A kind of rewiring needs to take place, so that slowness once more feels healthy and beneficial rather than irritating or wasteful.
Maybe you already embrace that, and don’t struggle to implement a rhythm of restfulness because you’ve been doing it for a while. Good for you. I hope I can learn to nurture it, too.