Monday, December 31, 2007
We hear it nearly everyday at school: “Respect Y.E.S.”; Respect yourself, everyone, and your school. Sadly, it seems as though people brush these words along and ignore them as they do a small annoyance. Have we become so self-centered that we, as human beings, cannot communicate with one another without having to pause to turn down our Mp3 players or to put someone on the phone on hold? Can we not make it through the day without the mass amounts of distractions keeping us from interacting with the world and those around us?
We’re growing older, and nearing graduation for many. Seemingly, our lives have become increasingly fast-paced, and the effort to keep up often occupies all our time and attention. We are so busy rushing from point A to point B that we forget to enjoy the ride. We race to the store without noticing the leaves on the trees or the clouds in the sky. We go through the checkout line feeling too pressed to converse with the cashier or the other people in line. We show up at school and don’t give the time of day to even make eye-contact with the students around us or to see how our very own teacher is doing that day. At the end of a day filled with this kind of frantic pace, we may begin to wonder what it is we do all these things for, if we don’t even have the time to occasionally stop and just take it all in.
Always being rushed and in a hurry doesn’t allow time for the soul to enjoy life, which is composed of small, ordinary moments, like watching rain fall from the sky, having a spontaneous conversation with a stranger, lingering over a meal for several hours, or simply going for a walk. Small towns and the people who live in them can teach us all a thing or two about living life to the fullest as a daily matter. City people have a tendency to think that their lives are full because they are doing so many different things, but in a small town, there tends to be more time left open to be spontaneous or take an extended moment of rest. Living so close to a big city, we seem to have absorbed this idealized fast-paced lifestyle. This certainly doesn’t mean that we can’t live in a city and enjoy life fully—we can and do; it just takes a little more awareness.
One thing we can do, wherever we live, is bring awareness breaks into our day and take 10 minutes to simply look out the window and observe what’s happening outside. We might also choose to cultivate a relationship with someone we see regularly, such as a clerk at the convenience mart, a neighbor, a mailman, or someone we see walking through the hallways at work. Taking time to have a conversation that is not necessary is a true luxury in this day and age, as is staring out the window. Participating in these acts of timelessness makes the biggest city in the world start to feel a little bit more like a small town.