Tuesday, June 20, 2006

More thoughts on time

As we are all struggling to pull our lives into some meaningful shape, the obstacles, although seemingly many, maybe fewer than we think. In order to make good choices, we need to have time to think them through, a community to bounce ideas off and get feedback, and the inner organization that is called integrity” (i.e.: walking your talk). And in fact integrity might be impossible without the first two.

Everyone agrees that our lives have speeded up substantially, even in the past few years (let alone decades), but have we calculated the side effects of this? Besides the costs to our health and sanity, there may be a serious and far-reaching effect on out societal structure. When people do not have the time to 1) seek out accurate information, 2) digest that info and 3) plan actions based on their convictions, we get a nation of people acting out of the most primitive instinctual basis -- certainly not citizen participants! Yet we continue to allow business to bully us into working faster, working with less information, and rarely seeing the end products of our work (which give us feedback for improvements). And this ties into community: it used to be that at work we had a ready-made community to give us feedback on our actions; now, everyone is too busy to even see what their fellow workers are doing, except in egregious circumstances.

And the other “communities” in our lives (family, neighbors, social groups, church) generally see only a piece of us, and so it is hard to get feedback about our integrity (which in Webster’s is defined as “the quality of being whole”) -- basically because we no longer have the time to spend any length of time with them. Here are just some ideas I've been batting around:

What would it look like to shift into a mode that allowed for good decision-making?
1) slowing our work pace until we are not making knee-jerk responses.
2) clearing our minds of the thousands of “to-dos” and distractions
3) having a block of time daily to discuss our lives with others
4) having a block of time daily to do inner reflection, review, and decision making
5) getting rid of so-called “time saving devices” that actually take up our time to maintain

The trade-offs:
1) less “status” as a “go-getter” - possibly being seen as incompetent & slow
2) less time for distractions: tv, computer, etc.
3) less groups so that more time can be spent with each group
4) possibly losing friends who don’t understand
5) possibly less money
6) increase awareness (and anxiety?) of the problems of our society

How to move toward new mode:
1) each day, set aside .5 to 1 hour for reflection (different from meditation - not clearing mind, but reviewing). Possibly journal to record progress.
2) review social groups -- how many contribute to self-awareness? Consider dropping those that don’t
3) each week, have 1/2 or full day of quiet (Sabbath) -- don’t distract self, don’t rush around... do tasks mindfully, spend time reading books for reflection, journal.
4) find support with friends, possibly find or form a group
5) make a list of your personal beliefs and how they are expressed in your life. Review these on a monthly (at least) basis. Ask friends for feedback.
6) start getting rid of things that need time you don’t have. Simplify.

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