The bright side, quite literally, of having sleep kept at bay by your sparring match with various thoughts is that you get to welcome a new day. Thanks to the low lying clouds on the horizon, this one’s a particularly slow rise. And as the backlighting of the sun delicately traces the clouds’ outer edges with glowing brilliance, a conclusion rises from the darkness: A slower world is a happier world.
My world moves too damn fast and I’m guessing yours might too. If you own a cell phone, email, text, browse social media feeds, play video games, watch movies and pretty much do anything with or on the Internt, your life is happening instantaneously.
It’s all relative, right?
Since I can do things quicker, like communicate in writing with someone in a distant place, taking a longer time to do it seems like a waste of time. What once took days or weeks, now happens the moment I hit send. Before cell phones, as a kid, I had to call people and often leave messages, then play a game phone tag to set up and time and place to hangout. Now I shoot a text and we’re on our way to the beach. And if you take longer than an hour to respond you are most certainly rude.
Seems innocent enough. But I got a sneaking suspicion, confirmed by hard evidence, that this instant communication and constant availability is conditioning me and messing up my sense of time. Working on long term school projects for a long period of time felt unbearable so I procrastinated then jammed it out in a short span. I’ve also started several projects outside school that fizzle out the moment I hit some friction that requires an investment of serious time to overcome.
Delayed gratification is on a steep decline and deep, sustainable happiness is going down with it.
It looks a lot like lazy, but my theory is that I’m conditioned for instant gratification. I haven’t experienced delayed gratification (that satisfaction that comes from effort over a long period of time) enough to motivate myself through the delay part. I haven’t tasted the victory when months of hard work finally pays off. It’s the feeling you have when you read that last page of the book. I barely read now because I’ve got movies for stories. So if it takes me longer than an afternoon to enjoy it, I’m out.
But I’m beginning corrective action. Since I’m bored of school papers, I’ve taken up the endeavor of making things. And I’ve started with a bench. The bench is a replica of a favorite of mine. It took me and two friends an entire day to get tools, buy supplies, build a mold, and pour one concrete slab. Now we’re waiting 48 – 76 hours for the concrete to cure before we can pour the second slab. And then we’ve got some more work before can sit on this thing.
A bench may seem silly, but we’re trying to prove a point.
We hit several snags throughout the day, which ordinarily would have caused me to relent, tell myself it was a stupid idea, and call it a day. But by recognizing our tendencies, we were able to battle them back. We took deep breaths, reminded ourselves this was a couple day process that couldn’t be rushed, consulted the internet for concrete pouring advice, made two more trips to the store to get the right stuff, and high-fived at the end of it all. We’re not even halfway finished, but I already feel happier than I do after watching SportsCenter all afternoon.