Friday, October 07, 2011

Live Life!

Have you ever just stopped to think about your life?  I mean really stop, sit down, and think about all the things that make you who you are?  If you haven’t, then you should.  If you have, then maybe you should again. 

We live in a rapidly changing world.  We live in a world where what is new today is old before it reaches us, today.  We live in a world where we expect instant gratification.  Credit cards have given us the instant means to buy what we want, when we want, and how we want it.  To make matters worst, the drive through window has given us the means to eat when we want and how we want.  We could be labeled easily as an instant generation.  When we want something, we want it now.  We don’t want to wait.  Face it, faster is better for who we are.  We want emails instantly, faster internet, faster communication, television all the time.  Unfortunately, in this hoopla of instant satisfaction, something gets left out and that something is life.

If you think back, most people around forty and older can remember a time before the drive through windows, before the internet boom, and before the instant gratification of credit cards.  I can remember has a child saving my allowance for several weeks to buy a special science fiction toy.  I can remember having to decide whether to buy a comic book or a magazine.  I can remember having to stay home to watch a show, and I can remember when the first drive through windows appeared.  But something more important along with all those decisions.  There was life.

Life happened daily.  Children played outside, families had meals together, television time was limited and Saturday morning was about the only time to watch cartoons.  We didn’t have gyms on every corner operating all night long, and in fact most people did not even belong to a gym.  Exercise came from work, walking places, playing games outside, or riding bikes places.  Talking was face-to-face and if you did have a friend around the world, you waited for a letter to arrive and then returned one.    Sadly, there are just some things about life that are gone now.  Or are they?  Maybe they are not so much gone as simply dormant or hidden behind our fast paced, credit and internet fueled lives.  Maybe if we reach deep within our lives we can find life again.

So how can this be done?  I can hear the voices now, “I have bills,” “deadlines,” “things that have to be done.”  Where can I find “life” in all this?  It will take work, but you can find life again.  Here’s a kick start for you:  Take one Saturday (or your day off) with your family.  If you don’t have a family, do it alone.  Take this one day and drop the following items out of your routine:
            No pager, cell phone, radio, internet, television, IPad, Itouch, or anything else electronic.
            No fast food, drive through, shopping, bill paying, work, or review of your current spending.

That being done, now you need to do some of the following:
            Go for a walk, sit back and watch the clouds, cook something on the grill…maybe hot dogs, something easy.  Play a board game with your family, play cards with your family, make homemade ice cream, take a picnic to the park, swing on a swing, feed the ducks at the park, read a book, talk with your spouse (only about life, not work, just something not related to the fast-paced world), go fishing, take some pictures, make tea, shoot a bb gun, shoot a sling shot, ride a bike, etc. 

At the end of the day, you should have avoided all the areas we said “No” to at first and focused on something related to “some of the following”.  Now at the end of the day, get a pen and pad (yeah, those things you write with by hand) and write about your day.  Write how you felt, what you thought, what you did.  If possible, get each person in the family to do this.  Share it with them.  After you have written it, put it away in a sealed envelop.  Go now to your digital calendar or your phone or whatever it is that reminds you to do something and make an appointment to stop, put everything away, open your envelope and read about your day again in twenty days.

In twenty days a funny thing will happen.  You’ll be going about all your fast paced life when that little phone, or IPad goes off with a reminder and it says, “Open your envelope and read about your day.”  You’ll do it and you’ll most likely realized that with the exception of forced exercise or forced situations, you have not just stopped to enjoy the things you did twenty days before.  You’re going to realize that you lived “life” that day.  You’re going to miss that day; you’re going to long for that day like you do for Christmas morning when you were a kid after Santa visited.  You’re going to feel something for that day that is missing on day number twenty.  Now you need to make time each day to have a “life”.  And maybe, just maybe if you try really hard, you’ll find that you can make more days to live “life” each week.  Life is truly good, but without living it, you’ll never know.