Thursday, June 03, 2004


Is civilisation going forwards or backwards? It took a mighty long time to get going, largely I guess because our ancestors were just too darn busy with the business of staying alive to do very much else. But eventually "leisure" and "free time" appeared on the agenda, and those ancestors moved from occupying these times by picking fleas off each other to pondering the meaning of life. Well, maybe there were a few steps in between, but you get my drift. The point is, learning and development go hand-in-hand with leisure - time to play, to experiment; time to allow the mind to wander and make unexpected connections, to ask questions on whose answers survival doesn't immediately depend.

But modern life seems to be taking away this time for apparently aimless wandering of the mind and instead filling all of life with busy-ness. Do-do-do; achieve results; produce output. I've been caught up in that lately; experiencing a relentless drive for activity that seems to seize hold, enslaving the mind and killing creativity. Hence no posts here - not for want of desire, but I'd got caught up in a way of being that couldn't adapt to creativity in the limited time available between bouts of busy-ness.

Once I get wound into this way of being, it becomes near impossible to disengage. Teeth get clamped onto this distorted work ethic and wont let go. Even if I see no value in the activity; even if I could choose to do something different I get caught up in this busy-busy-busy way of being. I wonder if this is because somewhere along the line I have absorbed a notion that value and output are associated; if I produce no output, I have no value. Rational self sees the absurdity of that, yet feeling self can't escape that uncomfortable valuation.

I'm even trapped in that way of thinking right here and now; desperate to produce something to fill the space in this blog - and if I'm honest with myself, that's because doing so creates value in my own eyes and boosts self esteem.

Anyway, I'm straying from the point. It seems that cultural pressure for activity and output of tangible results is slowing considerably the pace of learning about anything other than producing more results, more output. Understanding better what it means to be human, how we fit into this amazing universe, how we relate to each other - these have all become sidelined beside the relentless drive for busy-ness.

The bottom line is that I'd like to see a world where being has as much value as doing - where people are appreciated for who they are just as much as for what they achieve. It's tempting to go further and place being above doing, but I think that may be swinging the pendulum too far the other way. Achievement still has value, but its not an exclusive deal. Who you are matters just as much as what you do.

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