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Monday, May 21, 2012

The myth of multi-tasking and our desire for meaning...

Simplify

Easier said than done, but probably easier thought than said.

That's where it has to begin, a shift of belief or thought.  We have to believe at the core that simpler doesn't mean lazier.  I think we all get the sense that when we don't "multi-task" we're uneducated clods who can't chew gum and walk at the same time.  We want to be known as a "high capacity" humans who can accomplish great feats of strength while battling strep throat and kidney stones.  Undeterred, undaunted.

But this multi-tasking thing has really gone too far.  So what if you can do three things at once?  Big deal. So what?  The real question is how well are you doing each of the things you're juggling and how long can you do it before dilution leads to internal bankruptcy.  Just taking a cursory consensus on this kind of life, I'm seeing hearty starts and farty finishes.  I see people trying to impress everyone with their capacity to handle above-average loads (wide loads as seen on the highway), but over time, people get used to their spastic over-commitement and move on to the next impressive thing leaving that person left with the load but missing the motivation that came from people's comments of commendation for the breakneck speed and bent-over backwards sacrifice.  When overexertion becomes commonplace and expected as a norm...you're up the creek!  Burnout isn't far away.

Simplicity is becoming more popular these days.  Not just simplicity, but slowing down.  Eating slowly, driving slowly, making love slowly, playing with your kids slowly.  We are used to rushing meaning, cramming it into scheduled moments of time, and that cancels out what meaning is inherently.  Meaning comes when a person makes room for it.  You can't force meaning, you can't coerce it into a slot of time, you can't rush it to produce your desired outcome by x o'clock.  Meaning will not be trifled with like a two-dime prostitute.  Meaning demands appreciation and relaxation and simplification.  She won't stand in a line-up of other blind-dates hoping to get picked.  She won't even go on a blind date...she knows who she is and her identity doesn't need your validation.  Meaning is comfortable in her skin.  She only gives herself to those who respect her and themselves.  She certainly isn't going to be reduced to being penciled into your day-timer.  She isn't that kind of broad.

I think that's why the writer of Proverbs called wisdom by the name of "her".  Wisdom and meaning seem to function much less like a thing and more like a person.  She is treated with dignity...not demand.  She won't fit into your schedule.  She won't see how much time and energy you have leftover at the end of the day, taking the scraps.  She isn't going to give you what you want in the form of high-speed downloads.  She isn't going to be dragged and dropped onto your server in a folder for future reference.  You can't call on her to give you her delicacies if you treat her like an afterthought for the better part of each day.  No, meaning will only show up when she is seen as the primary object of your affection.  Granted, at times she will stab you unexpectedly in moments of busyness to remind you that she is waiting for your attention and affection, but most of the time, she leaves you to your devises and watches you wilt on the "vine of fine".

And when we're brittle and whittled down to our lowest survivable state, she whispers to us and says something like, "Remember me, I am the one to nourish you, to flourish you.  Will you quit adding me to your already busy life?  Will you say no to him, her, that or them in order to have me?  I am here for you, but not on your terms.  I am enjoyed when you pick two or three things that fit your skill set and sweet spot and do them with your whole heart.  I am annoyed when you want me to bless you with my presence in the middle of your nine all-important and especially-special things...I'm no where to be found in that life.  I'm sorry.  Less is more."

And this rambling is the cry of my soul for me, my marriage, my family, my friends, and my church.  If we ever expect to having meaning fill our souls, we must simplify.  doing two things well is better than doing 6 things decently.

Simplify.

1 comment:

~Suzanne~ said...

Well said. As a recovering multi-tasking-perfectionist, it is always a great reminder to embrace simplicity and wisdom. Slow does not come natural for me, but it is so much more enjoyable!