“I think my life is trying to tell me something, but I don’t have time to listen!” — Ashleigh Brilliant.
Spring has sprung! It’s traditionally a time of rejuvenation and renewal. What better time to stop and smell the roses — or the peach blossoms or the lilac? Hopefully, we are reminded of our relationship with nature. It’s also a good opportunity to consider what Eric Fromm wrote in “To Have or to Be”: “People’s relationship to nature has become hostile. It is most of science and technology’s aim to solve our existential problems by giving up the Messianic vision of harmony between humankind and nature by conquering nature, by transforming into our own purposes until the conquest has become more and more equivalent to destruction.”
This takes me back to the time of the puritan work ethic. Taking time out to cogitate was frowned upon. You know, “Idle hands are tools of the Devil,” “Too much pleasure is sinful.” etc. Many of us felt guilty if we were doing something that wasn’t productive or, heaven forbid, doing nothing but thinking about things.
The reason I bring this up is because, for today’s generation, the puritan work ethic seems to have taken a different turn. Now it’s more like the Madison Avenue work ethic. “I must achieve, accumulate and consume and mold myself into what is expected by others and society in general in order to be a worthwhile person.” It’s about how so many have been conned into thinking that the reason that they are not happy and content is because they are not trying hard enough to get more — money, material accouterments, achievement, love, the perfect family.
But a great deal is being lost as a result of the “do-it-all” and “have-it-all” mentality when such overscheduled people don’t take time out. Above all, they miss quality family time and rewarding personal interaction with others. It’s so much easier to miss knowing in depth those close to them and to avoid learning to know themselves. They also miss exploring their own creative gifts. They risk missing out on much that is essential to a fulfilling life.
Maybe if they would take time to consider how the Madison Avenue work ethic is impacting them, they’d come up with a better way. Possibly they could start by thinking about what Julia Baird once wrote in Newsweek magazine about downturns in the economy. “It is clear that … we should live more simply, consume more wisely, think of generations to come, and wonder what desires we want to plant in our children’s hearts.”
The Great American Dream has been turned into an all-consuming monster by corporate greed and individual mindlessness. We are outraged when we hear about so much dishonesty, avarice and disregard for ethics in government and the corporate world. When so many people are so completely involved in the rat race, corrupt and/or unscrupulous politicians, corporate leaders and others with influence and power find it easier to have their way with us. The archetype of our society has been orchestrated by the corporate media symphony that cajoles us and impels us to believe that we are imperfect and we can’t be happy unless we dance to their tune. And the more we become alienated from our inner selves and our personal life story, the greater the chance of being trampled under the feet of such opportunists who, without qualms, will use us for their own purposes.
Besides learning more about ourselves, we all need to have time to study and reflect upon what’s going in the world and what other people are saying about the state of our democracy and ask ourselves questions like: “What are my own beliefs?” “Where am I headed?” “Is this the direction I want to take?”
How important is it, really, to take time to smell the roses? If we don’t do this, it’s too easy to fall victim to the mentality of the masses — never looking below the surface, following the leader (whoever we may latch on to) like sheep and never considering what is best for us, much less our country.
Melvin Kinder, author of “Going Nowhere Fast” reminds us: “To have a firm sense of identity, we must allow for a pause or a respite when we can reflect and contemplate, not only what we want from life, but who we are. When we don’t make reflection a priority, we won’t have a well-defined identity. Instead of feeling whole, we are fragmented.” — Melvin Kinder, “Going Nowhere Fast.”
So go on, tiptoe through the tulips. And while you’re at it, bask in the sun, listen to the birds and enjoy the other messages of spring, including those needed raindrops.
Since 1984, Dorothy Dimitre has written more than 900 columns for various local newspapers. Her email address is email@example.com.