Friday, October 21, 2011

Is the best use of time . . . not to?

       The other day I found myself in a room listening to some pretty nice music.  I had nothing I needed to do EXCEPT listen; there was no other place I needed to be.  And I found it almost impossible to keep my hands off of my smartphone.  I felt absolutely drawn to check my email, or update my to-do list -- right in the middle of doing what I was scheduled to do!  I rationalized that I was making good use of my time.
       And, immediately, as I realized what I was doing, I recalled an article I had read just a day or so earlier.  The article came to my via the social network site "LinkedIn" -- a medium for professionals to make connections -- a very work-oriented social network.  And the article itself came from the magazine "Fast Company", described on their website:

Fast Company is the world's leading progressive business media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, ethonomics (ethical economics), leadership, and design. Written for, by, and about the most progressive business leaders, Fast Company and inspire readers and users to think beyond traditional boundaries, lead conversations and create the future of business. 

The article's title?  "What Happened to Downtime?  The Extinction of Deep Thinking and Sacred Space".
       In it, the author (listed as "The 99 Percent") begins by stating that "interruption-free space is sacred.  Yet in the digital era we live in, we are losing hold of the few sacred spaces that remain untouched by email, the Internet, people, and other forms of distraction."  The author goes on to argue that this loss of "sacred space" is partly due to our fear of what that space affords:  "To escape this chasm of self-doubt and unanswered questions, you tune into all of the activity and data for reassurance."  So, in the midst of beautiful music (following on the train of thought in the article), I feared being unproductive and turned to that security blanket:  my Android smartphone!
      The article also suggests, however, that in moments of un-connectedness (such as in the shower), we often have those "ah-ha" moments.  We are not "fully engaged in a creative activity" and another form of creativity is able to break through.  A walk through the fall leaves?   Sitting quietly in a church/temple/mosque?  Listening to beautiful music (without an accompanying video)?  Space for inspiration?
       I remember that I hesitated getting my first cell phone because I didn't want to be constantly available.  Things changed, and it became a necessary accompaniment to my life (mostly work-related).  And then the worm turned, and that phone began to control me, to demand that I attend to it--even when no one was calling or texting me.   And empty time became busy time.
       A break from busy time?  Have we turned time into such a precious commodity that it has to be used judiciously, efficiently, intentionally, constantly?  Might occasionally "wasting" time be its best use?  Ironically it was "Fast Company" that encouraged me to consider slowing down.
       Tempus fugit.  So what!?


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