this season: simplicity

This Christmas, I keep finding myself returning to the word: Simplicity. So that led me to the work of Leo Babauta – one of the world’s top 25 bloggers and his latest e-book offering, ‘focus: A simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction‘. I haven’t finished reading it yet but so far, these are what resonated with me:

  • It’s not that ‘less is more’, but ‘less is better‘.
  • We’ve come into this Age (of Distraction) without being aware that it was happening, or realizing its consequences…while the opportunities offered by the online world are a good thing, the constant distractions, the increasingly urgent pull on our attention, the stress of multitasking at an ever-finer granular level, the erosion of our free time and our ability to live with a modicum of peace…perhaps we didn’t realize how much this would change our lives.
  • Because we’ve created a new lifestyle very rapidly, and I am not sure we’re prepared for it. We don’t have new strategies for dealing with being connected most of the time,we don’t have any cultural norms, nor have we figured out if this is the best way to live life. We’ve been plunged into it, before we could develop a system for handling it.
  • Being connected all the time, being part of this constant stream of distraction, is an expectation that society now has of us. And going against that expectation is immensely difficult for many people – it requires courage…How did this happen? When did we opt-in to be a part of this? There was never a time when we agreed to these expectations, but they’ve evolved rapidly over the last decade or so, and now it’s hard to get out.
  • It’s not technology we should be afraid of. It’s a life where we’re always connected, always interrupted, always distracted, always bombarded with information and requests. It’s a life where we have no time to create, or connect with real people.

My own thoughts? Guilty as charged. I too have fallen prey at times to the constant need of staying connected and the need to keep up with what’s happening ‘out there in the real world’. Yes, that can be exhausting sometimes.

I also know I am not alone in this. Even though I run the risk of generalizing here (and I do acknowledge that is NOT always the case) I’ve observed that especially in our Singaporean friends when they are here for a visit. Even while on holidays, many would often bring along their laptops to check their emails (so that they won’t be inundated with emails when they return home) or they would be constantly checking their mobile for text messages or missed calls or going online etc. Or they would be feeling guilty for being away for work. So they are on holidays but obviously, part of them remained behind with all their work, ministry or personal commitment. And I wonder how many of those expectations are self-imposed.

Perhaps we all need to learn: i am not indispensable. the world can and does revolve without me. take a step back so others can step in and do the job. i don’t have to be there always. it is ok to be ‘un-contactable’ sometimes. being can be more enjoyable than doing. i don’t have to know what my friends are doing all the time. nothing beats a  face-to-face conversation, a hug and a hand-written note, anytime.


Posted on December 9, 2010, in Musings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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