Balance and Boundaries in Our 24/7 World
By Tracie Hiemstra, 2000
In this age of time-saving devices such as computers, microwaves and cell phones, your life has finally become simplified, right? Well, maybe not.
In fact, what has happened with our breakthroughs in communication methods is that we no longer have an obvious place of respite. We no longer have a quiet time commuting: we have cell phones. We no longer have a quiet evening at home: we have the internet. We no longer have a leisurely time in the evening for meal preparation: we have microwaves. Our lives have changed dramatically, and unless we are very, very careful, we will glance away and find that our lives have passed us by without our active participation.
The ageless parable of the boiled frog reminds us of what can happen when we are not paying attention. If you attempt to cook a frog by throwing it into a pot of hot water, it will immediately jump out. If you knew your life was whizzing by without your being involved in directing its course, you would call a halt and take it where you want it to go. If, on the other hand you try to boil a frog by putting it into a pot of tepid water and slowly turning up the heat, your mission would be accomplished: you would have a very dead frog. Such is also the case with your life. If you very slowly add to your commitments (read here: cell phones, e-mail, internet surfing, television, meetings, snail mail, etc.), you will eventually find that all your time is consumed. You no longer have contemplative moments. You no longer have rich relationships. You no longer accomplish the things that are truly important to you. You may indeed have it all, but you are in grave danger of losing it all.
How many broken relationships are you directly familiar with? How many families do you know where there are severe problems with children? How many executives do you know who feel hollow inside? How many situations do you observe where the main character is surging forward while not doing what he says is important to him? How often do you hear someone say she is feeling overwhelmed? This is not an accident. It is the boiling process taking us over.
That’s the bad news, but happily, there is also good news. There is a solution; and one that is perhaps quite easy. It involves taking a moment for yourself and asking the question: “Is this what I truly want?” But not just a general question?you must ask yourself if the life you are leading is getting you where you want to go mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Are you losing contact with the things you value deep down? Are you maintaining the relationships you really value and creating memories you will cherish? Or are you just collecting things (titles, objects, accolades). When you die, will you say, “I wish I had spent more time at the office” or “I wish I knew my family and friends and myself better”? You are the only one who can answer these questions, and you MUST. Do it now. It is possible to have it all and keep it all while you go for the gold, but only if you do so intentionally.