I watched a video the other day by Jay Shetty in which he talked about paradoxical thinking in our modern society. What exactly did he mean by the statement that we are using paradoxical thinking in our society, well, let me explain.
In non-linear growth, it is believed that “to achieve growth one must take two steps forward and then one step back”. This means that you design for the future but you understand that to properly use that technology you must first learn how it works and understand how to control it. For example, flying cars. We have the technology to develop a flying car. In fact car manufacturers, will tell you that when they are working on a new car design they look twenty to thirty years into the future and then scale it back to our current desires. And the flying car, well if you look at society today we can’t even go from point A to point B without crashing. That problem has further been exasperated with the introduction of smartphones into our daily routine now known as distracted driving. If, as a society, we can not even go from point A to point B on the ground without checking our texts how can we be trusted to fly between two points. Our society simply is not yet ready for this step, and that’s ok, that’s the point of non-linear growth and how it is a positive.
They seemed to do things the right way so many years ago when the focus was on expanding ones mind and not ones wallet. It wasn’t really until the end of the Second World War that things started to change when the ‘Baby Boomer’ Generation came into power demanding more homes, more appliances, more cars, more. That’s not to say they are to blame, certainly not. My generation “X” that came to power in the 80s and 90s holds the greatest level of materialistic demand. We needed faster, better, cheaper, me me me, and look where it got us.
It seems today, every day, we are creating more and more electronic devices to make our lives easier to increase communications and to theoretically advance our civilization. The problem is, the paradox, that as our society moves another “step forward it moves three steps backwards” (a quote from Mr. Shetty). We are growing closer together as a global community with the communication of our thoughts and ideas but we struggle to start a normal conversation with a person across the room or on a train. Our shift toward technology is not wrong however we must use technology as our tool not as our teacher.
So, what does that mean for our future? Well at our current rate it’s not good. Think of a time when you used your brain to do something. You struggled with it until you figured it out. After achieving the results, you wanted you felt a sense of accomplishment and new found knowledge on how the task must be completed next time.
Now, you develop a machine and tell the machine “complete this task” and it does. Great. But then the machine breaks and is no longer able to complete the task. You’d like to fix the machine but you don’t know how. The people who developed the machine used a method whereby they decided how the machine would work and then designed the machine to work in that fashion. Unfortunately, all those people are now dead and gone along with their knowledge. So how do you fix the machine? Now what?
This is an example of taking one step forward and three steps back. Now you must try to re-learn the skills that were practised before the machine was developed to know how to fix the machine. A task that could take years if not generations to achieve.
Now think of people as that machine. We grow so quickly to no longer feel that we need human teachers. We decide that we no longer need human interaction to achieve our goals. We eliminate our teachers and we distance ourselves from each other with wireless communication and virtual walls. Then suddenly, one day, the lights go out. Would society survive? Would someone be around to “fix” us?
I recall the book by H.G. Wells called “The Time Machine”. Without boring you with the details a man travels far into the future to discover a primitive society that has struggled to survive. The society, as it turns out, is ours. It was once a great advanced society but through war and disaster it lost its ability to transfer knowledge from one generation to the next. The great libraries and sources of information had fallen to ruin and the people became slaves of a mechanically advanced society that lived underground. In the end the people were freed from tyranny and the man was given the option to return to his time. He did return, grabbed three books from his library, and went back to the future to “teach” them the basics again. They never tell you what three books he took back with him. In a later modern version there is a virtual library attendant that contains the wealth of knowledge and he fixes it to teach the people. This story serves as a constant reminder to me to embrace our somewhat primitive learning techniques and to never become wholly dependent on machines for my personal growth and development.
So, what is the solution? We must, as a society, understand that technology is a “tool” and not our “masters”. We must embrace technology but only to enhance our humanity. It is possible but only if we learn how to, as Mr. Shetty said, hit the pause button, reset and start over again. The focus on our civilization must not be who can build the better tool but rather how we use that tool to better ourselves.
Now, all that being understood I wonder? Have I allowed machines to creep into my life and disrupt the balance between tool and technology? I think this question can be answered in my next blog on the recent decluttering in my life.
I was thinking back the other day to when people entered my life at just the right moment in order for things to work out okay. Were they angels? Now I'm not talking about friends or co-workers or associates or those people who come into your life for a while and it's more intent than chance when things work out for you.
One winter when I was living in the city I decided to go home to my parents place for Christmas. The only bus I could get was going up to Owen Sound on Christmas Eve, my parents had to drive up there to pick me up even - ah the joys of small town life and lack of services. So anyways, I got on the bus and it traveled north and then west. It stopped in a small town and the driver said that everyone continuing on would have to transfer to the other bus. I was certain that he said "everyone going west". As I was going north, at that point, to Owen Sound I remained on the bus I started on.
I guess it was about maybe five minutes later that the driver noticed I was still on the bus. She asked where I was going and when I told her she remarked that I was supposed to be on the other bus. The driver of the second bus had failed to confirm that all of his passengers had safely transferred. Let's just say that she wasn't impressed.
She proceeded to call up the other bus on her radio and chase it down to the next town. Yes, she was supposed to be stopped for the snowy Christmas eve night but instead she headed off and caught up with the second bus. I forget what town we intercepted it in but she actually parked her bus across the road in front of him so he couldn't leave until he'd made sure I was on board.
Her kindness, her going out of her way, saved my Christmas with my family. I needed it as I was living on my own in the city and needed that connection that family brings during the holidays (usually). Oh sure, my parents could have made their way down to the other town, a good 90 minutes out of their way even more but they didn't have to.
So was she just a regular person doing a kind deed, or, could she be one of those angels - kind of like the two TV series' Highway to Heaven or Touched By An Angel where they are present in our daily lives to "step in" and fix something that has gone wrong?
It's a simple example but you get the point.
For those of you who know about the Law of Attraction you are probably familiar with The Secret and the book and video associated with that title. In the video it talks about how you live each moment and how life is a series of these moments. One of them talks about imagining yourself driving at night, headlights on, it's dark, and all you can see is the two hundred feet in front of you. and that's basically all life is, the next two hundred feet.
So tonight I'm driving home from Red Deer. I turned down my dash lights, my GPS off, radio off and I focused on the road ahead of me. I couldn't see the trees or much of the ditch just the asphalt stretched out before me. The point of the exercise, in not so literal terms, is that you can't see the future or control it. All you can do is focus on your life for the next two hundred feet.
What does that mean? Well, as I mentioned, life is a series of moments. Take my life right now. I'm unemployed and in two days I will be homeless. I'm not thinking about next week or next month or next year. If I did the "big picture" would be far too overwhelming to deal with. But taken in smaller doses, moments, it's not stressful at all.
I have laid out my plans for Saturday and Sunday leading up to my departure on Monday. The various tasks I must complete, bills to pay, things to do before I lose regular internet service. Each task is not that daunting and feels no different than it would any other day. It's all about living in the moments.
That's the negatives. Now, the positives. I'm basically all packed except the things I've used daily, clothing, computer, and so on. This means I have more "free time" than I ever did before and I'm using it. I've worked on a "real" letter to a friend. I've donated stuff to charity and a pile of DVDs to the library. I had a phone conversation for over an hour in which we talked about Canadian history. I've even taken in some fresh air and sunshine, albeit while sitting in my truck but still I was "out there". And that's the moments, it's a balance, between the ones you don't like dealing with and the ones you do.
But that's what makes "moments" and living in the moment so important. All you have to worry about is the next two hundred feet.
I'm applying for jobs, fine, and whatever, fine, and I'll be living out of my truck and off the charity of friends until I get settled, fine (and thank you!) but I'm not worried. I have faith that each "moment" is moving me toward something better. It usually does at this point.
I have a mantra I tell myself every time something goes wrong. "No matter how bad things get for you they are always worse for someone else". And that is SO TRUE. I have my health, I have a decent working vehicle which is paid for, I have few obligations, I have no family depending on me. I will survive. It could be far worse and it is for so many people out there. So whenever I feel like the world is standing on my shoulders and there's no relief in sight I repeat that mantra to myself over and over until I've cleared the bad juju from my thoughts. "It is always worse for someone else".
Do I have a plan? Of course I do, I don't leave my entire future up to chance. I have experience, a lot of it, and I'm applying for jobs. It's just a matter of time before my services are needed somewhere, until then, I love my truck ;) I could rent a place but to be honest I don't know where I'm going to end up next. I want to stay in Alberta, that's definitely at the top of my "needs" but I'm open to B.C. simply because it's just next door. My friends and family are back in Ontario (older ones) but like I said the other day "you can't move forward if you keep looking backwards. Doubt, regret, second guessing oneself are all looking back and you can't get anywhere new and forward trying to go where you have already been".
I decided I would write this blog even though it's very current and very referring to my life at this moment because many of my friends have just started hearing about my recent issues and I wanted to reassure them that all is well - those who know me and what I believe in will know that statement to be true.
It's all good.
Names have been changed to protect those involved. This is an excerpt from a letter so it might not make sense entirely but I felt I needed to share it. It involves the tragic accidental death of a friend of mine. I won't go into details but his death had a profound impact on my life for many years after. It wasn't until literally decades later when I communicated with a family member of his that I finally found peace.
I have had many such opportunities come and pass, and this time I stood by and watched as they disappeared from me life. The only one I ever really had not one, but two such chances with was you. On August 27, 1989 and May 1994. I am not going to let it happen again, she means too much to me.
I mentioned in my diary about Steve's death and the profound negative impact it had on my life. I can recall that day like it was yesterday even though it was almost sixteen years ago. The day [removed] began like any other except that it was the last day of March break.
My best friend Richard had come over to my house and we were playing a game of double Monopoly (Monopoly with 2 boards in the shape of a figure 8) up in my room. We thought about going for a bike ride but I convinced him that we should play the board game instead. It was one of those seemingly insignificant choices that would forever change my life.
We continued our game til about 6 pm when Richard had to go home for dinner. At about the same time night was setting in the first fire truck was roaring down to the park - to the area where we first met. Richard left, and as the evening wore on the number of vehicles increased - a couple fire trucks, ambulance, police and search and rescue.
My father and I walked down to the park, just near where the road splits (one way up the long hill, the other into the playground section). It was about 7:45 pm when we got down there, I think. The ambulance was on standby and they were carrying someone, on a stretcher, towards it and then into it.The ambulance drove off down the park road to the hospital - and that was about it. The next day I found out that the body I had seen being carried away, was my friend Steve.
I had just been in a snowball fight with him, a couple days before, at my friend Bob's house - who lives side by side with Steve's family. I remember everyone who knew him was shocked. The other two boys were there at the time, Fred and Buster, who were, I think, in a way responsible for the accident. There was an inquest into his death, the results were published and it was ruled accidental.
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