Friday, December 18, 2015

The Great Escape

One of our most powerful survival mechanisms is selective ignorance. We only pay attention to a few things. It's why time is so powerful a medicine. Even things that matter deeply to us lose their hold on our attention. It also means being busy is as powerful a drug as alcohol. Like the art of distracting a baby when they are crying, being busy can move our attention away from the things that get us down. Being busy also fits neatly into our love of progress and visions of a better future. If you are busy, and things go wrong, you have a pre-built excuse, 'Sorry, there is nothing I could have done, I was busy'.

Having time is liberating. It is also daunting. There are lots of big challenges in the world. There are lots of big challenges in our own personal lives. If you have time, you have time to think. You have time to gain perspective on your own worries by seeing the traumas others are going through. Sometimes it is much easier not to do that. Not to watch the news. Not to read books like 'Country of My Skull' by Antjie Krog. In it she covers the stories that came from the Truth and Reconciliation commission in South Africa. It is tough reading. Each page is hard. It is easier to be too busy to read.


When you are busy, your world shrinks. It focuses. If you are having troubles at home, there is no time to think about it at work. If there are political troubles in your country, you can leave it to someone else while you do your job. If there are people starving, people dying in wars, people who would love to spend time with you, you know this is true, but you 'don't have time'.

Many dream of escaping into retirement, but perhaps work is the escape?
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