"Do you have the time?"
It used to be a question of the present moment, a request to turn your wrist. Now the question sounds more like a test of your attention. Or do you have the time to have the time?
Yesterday, I finally had the time to finish Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. And while the month it took me to read it had me scratching my head without or not it's wrong to move away from books and in front of screens, my takeaway message was Carr's mirroring of media theorist Marshall McLuhan, explaining that changing our tools changes our relationship with our world. "Nature isn't our friend, but neither is it our enemy," declared Carr.
When we look at the world through the eyes we've trained for the Internet, we start to see a fast-paced interconnected cloud. We may not focus on books or one channel at a time. We may not know the awesomeness of a meditation. It's not necessarily fog we're stumbling in, but it's not something to ever be bottled or shoved aside. It's bigger than all of us and our time here. And we're forced to exist in a world where choice means exploring an infinite universe around us. Linda Holmes called this The Sad, Beautiful Truth That You Will Miss Almost Everything.
But instead of focusing on the infinite flashing lights and bright colors of the Internet, unable to be contained, I've started to practice taking tabs of my own amazement. When do we ever sit back in the glory of how far we've come? Exploring used to run risks of imminent danger, Oregon Trail terrors. Exploring now is like falling down a wormhole that keeps you from adult responsibilities, like showering or getting to anything on time.
I think we're caught. If we focus too much on the impossible feat of knowing everything there is to the world now, we're bound to feel loss. Our amazement at this technology is overshadowed by the millions of words and songs and videos uploaded everyday. But why not surrender? Surrender to the fact that you can't know it all. You just have the choice to make sense of what you will.
And if it comes down to technology writing the rules of our relationship with the world, why not use that technology to be better? More grateful? More healthy? More caring? There is no question we could always use a bit more in this world.
Until next time...
I explode into space.