How did we get to the point that we are so busy, we don’t have time to stop and “smell the roses ”as the song says (by Mac Davis & Doc Severinsen). New innovations have been available to make our lives simpler and easier. But have they succeeded in doing this or have they only complicated our busy lives more? I’m referring to ipads, cell phones, and laptop computers and email and Facebook, all wonderful tools we are enjoying which were designed to keep us connected. But, I think somewhere we have missed some very important people connections along the way. Most important, what about our family connections? Have we managed to get ourselves into a place where our schedules are so busy and can only be managed with the assistance of these communication tools, to the point that we no longer have enough time to be a family and to be, well, people?
I ran into a friend having lunch in a nice restaurant. She was sitting there with her laptop working. I asked her how she was. Her response, “I’m so busy, I have several things to get done for work and the kids have their soccer games and recitals coming up, I mean, it’s hard to keep it all balanced.” She added, “I bet you’re excited though; you’re getting close to retirement.” I told her it would be a couple of years before I retired but I added, “I’m looking forward to having some down time.”
I thought about this exchange as I was driving back to work. Are we all so busy juggling family life, working, and staying on top of all the commitments associated with these demands that somewhere we have stopped enjoying life and most important, stopped being families?
“Life teaches us to make good use of time, while time teaches us the value of life!” (Good morning wishes.com)
We live in a society now where both parents are having to work to keep up with the financial burdens that life throws at us. Working means needing all the tools to stay connected.
As an example, I admit to being guilty of this dependency issue when I noticed after leaving my phone at work one day last week, I started getting concerned that I was missing something vital on my phone. I even considered driving back to the office (located downtown) at 9:00 in the evening just to get my phone. I found myself getting anxious about it. How did I get to the point that I felt lost without my phone next to me?
I decided that perhaps it’s time to reexamine my priorities. Wouldn’t it be nice to ask someone how they are and have them communicate what’s in their heart and not on their schedules? Wouldn’t it be great to just enjoy a family meal without anyone looking at the tablets, their phones, their laptops…even their email or wondering what’s on them; wouldn’t it be a change for the better if we just limited time with them?
You may say to me, well, how can we manage our busy lives without all the assistance from these wonderful tools? I guess my answer would be, I’m not suggesting to walk away from them, I’m suggesting we reprioritize.
Family is the miniature version of society. It is in the family where we learn to act responsibly, where we learn to accept authority. We learn values such as loyalty to other members, and respect of individual’s privacy. Can this really happen if we are overwhelmed with responsibilities to our personal connections and tools just to stay on top of our busy schedules?
I read the saddest story in the paper about a man who forgot to take his baby to the daycare and left her in his car the entire day. This baby died because he was so preoccupied with his job and his busy life that he did not realize for six hours that she was still in the car; she totally slipped his mind. Apparently, they are still deciding to make an arrest. Providing this was just a slip of his mind, the guilt he now lives with has to be enormous. I immediately said a prayer for him and his family as I read it. For the rest of their lives this will haunt them.
A couple of weeks ago, I overheard a conversation at the store while waiting in line to check out. This lady was telling her friend she was thinking about getting her seven year old a phone for his birthday. A phone for a seven year old; really? She said this way she can let him know when he has appointments, and he needs to be picked up by his father and taken to his tee-ball practices, and his play dates with his friends. She would also let him play games on his phone. As I was listening to this conversation I almost asked her if this was an appropriate birthday gift for a seven year old. But, I thought, maybe it is in our busy world. Maybe I’m the one that’s missing the point.
I am sure when Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson were working on their “voice transmitting device” in 1876 they were not thinking that it was going to be a great tool to check up on our email, to stay connected to face book and play games and even watch movies. Furthermore, I’m sure they would have been totally shocked it would be used as a birthday gift for a seven year old so he can stay connected in his very busy world!
As we approach Easter, a time of new beginnings, let’s make a commitment back to family, togetherness and friendship and maybe spend a little less time using our time saving tools to keep it all together!
Catherine Mendenhall-Baugh(Cathy) completed her education at the University of Nebraska majoring in Special Education and minoring in English and now works as an Agent in the Insurance Industry. A mother and Grandmother, Cathy grew up in a large Catholic family and has spent the last 30 years as a caregiver for her husband Jack. She is a cancer surviver which inspired her to begin writing six years ago. She is a writer for the Catholic Imagination Column for Tuscany Press, and is currently working on several other writing projects.
Copyright 2015 Cathy Baugh
Photo: Cafe_table via Morguefile. Copyright 2010 Sue Molyneaux.