We get 24 hours in a day. For most of us a quarter of that time is spent sleeping. that leaves 18 hours of productivity. We choose to fill that time with work, family, friends, maybe eating. But, lets be honest, most of us spend the majority of our time just wasting time. I do it, you do it. We all do it. Playing games, iPad, iPhone, Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, Tumblr, Fumblr. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Amazon Not so prime (aka reading)
We waste so much of our 18 hours just wasting time. I’m not accusing. I do it too. And because we waste so much time, we often feel rushed because we feel we have so little time. Or, for some of us, looking and feeling busy is the rush we desire. I think I already wrote on this topic, maybe not, but looking busy has become a personality trait for many. I’m funny, he’s athletic, She’s always busy. (Or he’s always busy, not to judge) We rush around and we don’t have time for simple things.
I’m not talking about family, friends, watching birds and smelling flowers. Those things are cute, but the simple things I’m talking about are as follows:
1: Putting your shopping cart back in the return area. And I’m not talking about leaving it in the general area, barely touching the one in front of it, but still hanging out in the parking lot. I mean pushing it all the way down the chute and possibly even slamming it into the back of the previous one so they all lock together. It’s so tacky and annoying when I’m returning my cart and I cant even get it into the chute because everyone has just left a pile. So busy they just couldn’t give it a good shove. Who does this affect. First of all, me! Secondly the guys and girls making minimum wage fetching these carts. They should be able to hook them up in a little train and return them. Instead they spend most of their time having to push them all together. Which breaks their backs and leaves more and more shopping cart mess in the parking lot. And if you are the person who leaves your cart in the parking space next to you…. I’m coming for you!
2: Saying hello to the Walmart greeter. (This also applies to Target, Home Depot, and any other shopping center or market that employs someone usually elderly or disabled to say hello and make you feel welcome) Saying hello costs no energy and takes no time. They say hello, you say hello. Maybe smile, but its not required. Of course, I’ve lived in places where if someone says hello to you on the street, there’s a pretty good chance you are going to be leaving with less money. But, I can 99.9% assure you the Walmart greeter isn’t going to mug you or swindle you into buying them a new car. Just say hello.
3: Cleaning up the mess you made on or around your table at a restaurant. I’ve eaten with kids, and they can be messy. I’ve eaten with adults, and they can be messy. I get it. You’re having a great time eating and celebrating and throwing your bread up in the air and sometimes things will fall to the floor. But, if you are able to pick up your fork, napkin, onion ring, or 4 month old baby, that would be a great help to the servers and busboys so they don’t have to climb under the table. And if they aren’t the cleaning type so the next customer doesn’t have to step on your fork, napkin, onion ring, or 4 month old baby. It doesn’t take that much time and it’s a great help.
4: Putting clothes back on the hanger at a store. Many places employ armies whose entire job it is to put clothes away. But, you know there are other places where an hour after opening it looks like a tornado came through and knocked every article of clothing off its hanger and onto the floor or draped over the rack. It’s a disaster for the employees and future shoppers. I won’t say I’m the biggest fan of hanging up clothes, but how much time and energy does it really take to notice a shirt is the wrong size and to put it back on the hanger it came off of? This also applies to folded clothes, but I would recommend having a PhD in Foldology first.
Yes, we are busy. Some days are more rushed that others. But, if you take a little extra time to help a fellow man or woman, the world might be just a little nicer.
The hottest new trend in America right now is being busy. People walking down the street saying “Look how busy I am!”. Calling friends just to say that you can’t talk because you are too busy. I’m not joking, I have witnessed this. I was at a Starbucks one time and heard the guy behind me calling everyone he knows and starting each conversation with “Sorry, can’t talk long, I’m really busy today” I, for one, was very impressed by this man.
Today I am sitting in work with a sign on my back which reads “If I am not already doing it, It will not be done today” I am just too busy today. I have my list of tasks that need to get done today and there is no way I can possibly add anything else. I am actually typing this blog post one or two sentences at a time as I load the “House of Hair” radio show into our system for the weekend. I get a minute between segments while they are saving and I choose to fill that time with writing.
I wrote about this before in my post “The Case for the American Siesta” but as a culture we always need to be doing something. We are so afraid of down time. I imagine for many of us, if we aren’t doing something we feel like slacker losers. I know I do. I can’t just watch TV. Unless it is an action movie where the plot can change in a second, very rarely do I ever just sit and watch. I get out my iPad and I write, or check e-mail or play “Simpsons: Tapped Out” (I love that game) Like the goat looking over the fence, I always have this feeling that there is something good to find out there and I must be always searching for it.
But don’t we know living like this is killing us? If you are always working, thinking, searching and talking you are not resting. And if I wasn’t so busy, I would take the time to find some facts and figures that show that doctors report we are losing more sleep and are becoming more mentally unstable and depressed. Facts or not, I imagine nobody would really dispute me on this. We live in the age of ease where everything is done for us, yet we are more stressed out than before. Ironic, don’t you think?
My message for you all today is this weekend, take some time to relax, be quiet, think and totally unplug. Sit outside and watch the birds and rabbits. Listen to the wind and the rain. Pray a little, but mostly listen and experience God. Because if we are constantly talking, thinking and filling our time, how will we be able to hear Him and the world around us?
As one that has lived all over the world and been among varying cultures there is one thing that every country and culture has had in common that does not even come close to existing in the US. A nationalized nap time.
Most famous is the Siesta. A time to stop work, take a break and recharge in the middle of the day. The purpose of this being that in the middle of the afternoon it gets HOT in South America. The other reason is that the workday does not run 9-5. In most countries, you start working in the morning and you don’t stop until business is done. Therefore, taking a nap at 1:00 does not seem that out of place if you know you will be working until 10 pm.
I tell you that story to tell you this one:
The island of San Cristobal, one of the Galapagos Islands, is the most laid back places in the world. I had the pleasure of living there for a few months while teaching English at a “Summer Camp”. The people were amazing, very kind, and although not many of them had a grasp of the English language, they still were very conversational in their own way. But, the thing that I found so interesting was the level of laidbackatude they exhibited.
An outsider would categorize is as not giving a darn. The sight of closed stores and people sitting around not doing much of anything would shock and appall any business owner. “What are they doing? How do they expect to make a living?” they would say. Americans, especially, are famous for working themselves to death. Wake up in the morning and push hard throughout the day with paperwork, meetings, phone calls and the like. And even after the day is over, briefcases come home full of overflow, not to mention the cell phones never stop ringing. We are always switched on and can almost never turn it off.
The difference in places like San Cristobal, I like to think, is that the people live to live and do not live to work. If the family needs food, they open the store and make the money they need. And if they aren’t able to get what they need, a neighbor is usually willing to help out. People in these countries live within their means. In Vietnam as long as you have a roof over your head, that is all that matters. I saw houses in Ho Chi Minh City that were the size of a toddler’s room and twelve people eat and sleep on that floor. Do you think they minded? Do you think they were sitting there thinking “I need to work harder so I can buy a bigger house”? Maybe, but I never thought so. They were with family and they had what they needed to stay alive. If they had extra money they might get a little more rice, or a watermelon. If they didn’t, life still continued.
The moral of the story, we need to relax and stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. Americans as a whole come nowhere close to living within their means. We are always looking for bigger and better instead of focusing on what we already have. Do you need a house with 3 full bathrooms when only 2 people will be living in the house? Do you need the super-sized pickup truck if you will only be hauling groceries? Probably not, but if you didn’t go out and spend yourself into debt, you wouldn’t have to work so hard to pay it off.
We all want to be rich, successful and popular. But is all that worth killing ourselves?
I say no, and think we are prime for an American Siesta.