Another year begins on Wednesday. It’s the perfect time to reflect not only on the year gone by, but on our lives to this point.
What do we hope for the future?
Do any of us still do this anymore?
Does anyone take time, on New Year’s or any day, to think about their lives, who they are, how they got there and where they’re going from there?
Does anyone take time to contemplate anything?
We are all rushing from one thing to another, our faces buried in our phones as we walk and drive, as we are no longer content to do one thing at a time. We cram as much into each day as possible, from the moment we wake to the moment we sleep. Some of us even listen to instructional tapes while we sleep, in hopes of accomplishing something during that “down time”
It’s almost as though multi-tasking has become a status symbol -- the more we can do at once, the more connected — and important — we must be.
Whoever we are. If we even know.
Years ago, introspective thinking was the norm. People wondered how they could improve themselves. They sat on porches on warm summer nights and had cold beverages with friends and neighbors, discussing real issues of the day. They would talk about their own lives, their families, their hopes and dreams.
Parents actually had time to talk to their children, to answer their questions, listen to their concerns, offer them guidance.
No one has time for that anymore. There isn’t time for anything. There’s always the next new thing we are rushing towards. We are never content. We always want more. And we never stop to wonder why.
There used to be plenty of time to contemplate the mystery and wonder of life. TV changed all that. For now there was a device that entertained us. It required nothing from us, no effort, minimal concentration. And it was there, any time we wanted it.
As television grew, so did the entertainment industry — for now anyone could become famous overnight, given the proper exposure.
Wireless phones became cell phones became tablets, and everyone must have one to stay connected. Does anyone ever wonder what it is they’re really connected to?
We work so hard to be sure we don’t waste a moment of our day. Yet we can’t spare a few minutes to reflect on our day and ourselves.
We get up, check our emails, texts and messages and head off to work — unless, of course we work at home, where the workday never ends and you never leave the workplace.
We deal with dozens of things at once at our jobs, meanwhile checking in on all our various means of communication to see if anyone has left a message, text, tweet or whatever, and responding to that.
On the way home our phones are glued to our ears.
Once home, there are TV shows, video games, DVDs and blu-ray, CDs, MP3s, a web to surf and countless other distractions and entertainments.
We occupy our time with these and our iPads until we can’t keep our eyes open. Then we’ll still do it some more before we go to bed.
Does anyone lie in bed at night thinking about the things they did or said that day, things that affected others, and whether they were right or wrong? How many people think beyond the details of the superficial life that has been imposed upon us?
Sure, our possessions are important to us. I love my guitar, my music collection, my stereo, my books, my fishing tackle.
But I can tell you this: Those times I was in a hospital bed, tottering between life and death, when my doctors told me flat out that I might not make it, never once did I think of my stereo, my records, my books, guitar or tackle. I never thought about a single thing I own. I didn’t think about baseball, fishing or any of the things I enjoy.
I only thought about people, the people I loved, the people I’d be leaving behind, and the people I soon might see again.
I only thought about what was important.
This new year, my wish is that around the world, people everywhere would realize that they — WE— are what is important. Everything else is merely an obstacle in the way of that realization.
Have a happy new year!
CORRECTION: Last week I wrote about my friend Dave Hayes, who passed away five years ago on Dec. 23. I wrote several times of his career on the radio. Unfortunately, I had a brain cramp. Three times I wrote that Dave worked for a Sandusky radio station. The station was WLEC. I have always known that Dave worked for WLEC. I have a mug he gave me that has WLEC on it. But for some reason, my brain substituted the call letters of a Canton radio station instead. To Dave and those who knew him, as well as all those at WLEC, I offer my apologies. (I don’t think Dave would have been too upset, though. He knew me well enough to expect mistakes like this from me from time to time.)