Last week NPR's Morning Edition ran a story called "The Commercial Possibilities of Sleeping Less." The basic premise of the story was all-too familiar to me: We are all doing more and sleeping less.
I chuckled at the mention of workplaces offering structured coffee breaks, yoga breaks at work or "acupuncture on the run" (Their terminology. And, Ow) as a means to squeeze more work out of their employees. I don't know about anybody else, but the only time yoga is practiced in this Ivy Covered Closet is when I assume the Manic Mohammad position, trying to move a mountain of work.
The thrust of the story, however, was looking at this phenomenon from a commercial standpoint and discussing how business is capitalizing on a life lived at breakneck speed. Our world is now filled with products developed to make our time pass more efficiently.
Then, we measured, stirred and sifted. We dumped in big yellow bags of chocolate chips, being to leave a few extras inside the bag for snacking. When we were done we licked the beaters as a reward for a job well done. Along the way we learned how to follow directions, measure accurately, clean up our messes, and provide food for ourselves and others. It was not the most effiencent method by today's standards. But it was fun.
Today in my fridge you'll find two packages of break-apart cookies. 12 minutes in the oven and they're done. No muss. No fuss. No beaters.
Then, we went to the library and checked out books. We filled out Scholastic order forms at school and anxiously awaited for our new books to arrive. We climbed into the comfiest chair or sat in a porch swing and got lost in stories that would take your breath away.
Today in my car you'll find books on tape.
Then, we had four channels from which to choose, and an aerial antennae. Changing channels meant changing the TV channel dial as well as the aerial antennae dial. I always thought of it like a clock. CBS was at 1:00. NBC was at 4:00. ABC was at 10:00. PBS was a whole different story. Once you moved the antennae dial, you waited.
Ca-CHUNG ... Ca-CHUNG ... Ca-CHUNG ... Ca-CHUNG
It was slow and annoying. In fact, TV surfing didn't really exist because of all the Ca-CHUNGing that was necessary just to see what was on. It just wasn't worth it. Today in my house I have enough remotes to equip the descendants of Abraham. I have TV remotes, VCR remotes, DVD remotes and several backup remotes, just in case.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not pining for the olden days because THERE WERE NO REMOTES. But it is curious that despite a world filled with time-saving products, I, for one, am still significantly short.
What happened? Weren't salad-in-a-bag, computers and disposable toilet brushes supposed to give me back my lost time? Aren't plug-in air fresheners and ziplock bags and Swiffer Sweepers the answer for busy consumers everywhere? Bill Gates, Mr. Clean and Mrs. Fields, why have you forsaken me?
Unfortunately, I have no one to blame but myself. For every time-saving device I use, I manage to take that time and smother it with so many more activities, I am more behind than where I started. If only I could Etch-A-Sketch all the busy-ness out of my life and start with a clean slate. But would I change? It's doubtful. I'd probably go right back into filling that void with things and activities and until I'm frantic all over again.
Time saved is a gift. I have to learn to accept this gift and be a better steward. I'm not going to abandon the conveniences of the 21st century, and nobody, NOBODY will be able to pry the remote out of my hand. But once the commando needlepointing is done, and the tests are graded, the homework completed, the emails are written and the dishes washed, I am going to take the time to tour the garden, go on a bike ride with TinyTuna, bake some chocolate chip cookies and lick the beaters.