This morning while wrestling with my son it dawned on me how distracted we are as Americans. Distraction has come to be a defining characteristic of our nature as Americans. Many point to technology as the culprit, and I partly agree. The internet and social media is both the bane of our existence and the benefit we’d always hoped for in the past. The ability to access information in seconds is crucial to solving complex and perilous global problems. However, because of the availability of information our lives our less our own.
I thought for a long time this morning trying to recollect how many people I know who actually enjoy diverse lives. How many people do you know who complete at least 5 things each and every day which are of benefit only to themselves, only to their families and only to society as a whole? For a moment consider the discipline it requires to embrace each day with this level of mental and spiritual fortitude and endurance. Most spend the bulk of their lives doing one of these things well, and only one. Very few people I’ve met can master numerous areas, and subsequently, achieve a fulfilling life of balance.
Perhaps the myriad of distractions account for the lack of diversity in our lives. How many people do you know that actually exercise everyday?; educate their children about their unique identity culturally, ethnically, and spiritually everyday?; who also everyday give of their time, whether a little or a lot, to someone else when such action boomerangs no tangible reward back to the giver?
Of course most of us spend at least 8 hours each day working to benefit someone else’s bottom line, but who do you know who challenges themselves to persist with their own goals and dreams while working for others, until it becomes unnecessary to do so further? Much can be said on this count; in many ways America has exploited technology to the detriment of the worker. Instead of technology allowing for less time spent working than in the past, today we work more than ever before. It’s very difficult to achieve a balanced life when you’re working 50-plus hours a week so that your boss can purchase his son a yacht somewhere. This is the price many are willing to pay in order to live a comfortable domestic life. But at what cost?
By the time my son dozed off for his late morning nap I’d come to the realization that I have serious work to do in order to become more engaged in creating the life I desire rather than, kind of, meandering each day, stumbling from one distraction (whether important or trivial) to another; all of it too often serving to sedate the energy required to bring about my best life. It goes without saying that there’s potential benefit to, say, staying abreast with important news and enjoying entertainment, but it becomes counterproductive when these things are enjoyed at the expense of activities which inspire personal, familial, and societal growth.
The hardest part is that it is possible to be productive living in this perpetual state of imbalance. Many of my friends and family have refined this style of living and parlayed it into, at least by monetary standards, success. But deep down all of us know success in life cannot be measured by bank balances and stock options. It is this inherent understanding which has always haunted me, especially in a society like America, where the obsession for money pervades even charity. It’s difficult and dangerous to go against the tidal wave and find the type of balance which allows for one to experience emotional, mental, and spiritual wholeness.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have crossed paths with at least a few individuals who do enjoy diverse lives, and they are indeed some of the most compassionate, empathetic, generous, loyal and loving people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. They live lives of balance and the universe rewards them. Their example provides a center by which to home in a world of chaos.