Modern Life — 7 Comments

  1. Oh and of course, “Take Back Your Time,” which is both an excellent book and a movement for social change. This for the benefit of other readers of this thread, since I see you’ve already got a link to their site…

  2. Along these lines, I can recommend “Time Wars, the Primary Conflict in Human History: by Jeremy Rifkin. It’s dated but still compelling. More recently, “Affluenza, the All-Consuming Epidemic” by John de Graaf, et al., which includes the line: “We are a nation that shouts at a microwave oven to hurry up.”

  3. I’ve vacationed in Mexico and Cuba multiple times and this sort of “slow down and enjoy life” philosophy comes into play all the time. For example, if you go to a bank, the lineup is long, no one is complaining, and the tellers and the customers spend twice as long doing the transaction because everyone is asking about the weather, talking about their families, etc. It is very annoying.

    And then I realize that I am the foreigner who doesn’t stop enough to enjoy life and realize that they have it right and we have it wrong.

  4. I love that idea, Steve, to be able to come to work late because you “had to” listen to beautiful music! And then – to continue the idea – everybody drops everything at work to rush out to find out who that musician is. I agree, we’re taking work way too seriously here in the US. You might enjoy reading Roger Housden’s “Seven Sins”. It is a wonderful reminder to slow down and enjoy life more. The thing that stuck with me most: The French economy isn’t that much worse in terms of GDP (well, that was before the recession, not sure how it’s now) but people tend to enjoy life more. I could imagine the “I stopped for music” reason to be acceptable in France… So, there’s no great gain from our workaholic living.

    Onely: Good point about the inability to hear the music because of the circumstances. I still wonder, though, if people didn’t have the “I have to be at work at exactly x o’clock or else” attitude, they could’ve heard the music because they wouldn’t mind stopping to listen.

  5. Rachel,

    Thank you for this post. Ruth said I would benefit from making your acquaintance and clearly she was right. I’ve been reading a number of things that advocate slowing the pace of life and am convinced that it is essential and necessary to restore some sanity to human civilization. The article you linked to was astounding.

    There is an elderly classical violinist that I used to see fairly often at the Embarcadero BART station, busking. It’s been a long time since I listened to classical music regularly but I’ve come to suspect that this guy is some retired concert violinist who busks more for the love of playing than the money. And while sometimes I do stop and listen to him, too often I do not. I wish our puritanical American culture was less mercenary and more Romantic. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could come to work late with the explanation “I had to wait– the music was too beautiful to pass it by?”


  6. Regarding the violinist– Malcom Gladwell’s book Blink, the Power of Thinking Without Thinking, talks about how our eyes influence the way we hear. Orchestra administrators listening to auditions for the orchestra didn’t hire a woman trombone player because they thought her playing didn’t sound good enough, but when she played for them at a different audition from behind a screen, they accepted her immediately because they loved her sound. Sexism was involved as well, but Gladwell also point out how if we’re seeing something that doesn’t jibe with what we’re hearing, we will actually, physically hear differently. Perhaps something like this was going on with the hectic commuters–their visual world was so unconducive to hearing top-notch violin music, that they literally did not hear it the same way they would have in a concert hall. Though I imagine if you tried, you could override this tendency. One of my resolutions is to be more mindful in that way, to try to see the sunlight reflecting off things, etc.


  7. Even though I had my iPod on yesterday morning, I said hello to the man giving away the McPaper (I was getting the news from the iPod) at the entrance to the Cleveland Park Metro (in DC). I saw my shadow on the wall to the left as I walked down the escalator. Then I saw my shadow on the wall to the right. HUH????? How was that possible???? So I paused at the bottom, turned around and watched the next passenger come down the escalator. Then with the satisfaction of “I know something no one else knows”, I continued on my way to the office.

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