A funeral driver remembered how the somber passage of a funeral procession caused other drivers to slow down and -- he liked to think -- ponder their own mortality. Today, people routinely ignore the "Funeral" signs on each motorcade car, the blinking emergency flashers, the line of headlights. They show no interest in making way for the passage of the dead.
Now, he said, everyone "seems in a hurry to get nowhere."
I thought "Wow! That sums up our culture today."
Our Hurry To Get Nowhere
I brooded about this quote off and on during the day.
First, I thought about all the other examples of impatient, thoughtless behavior on our roads and highways: outbreaks of road rage, running red lights, routinely driving at least 10mph over the speed limit, phoning and texting while driving.... We see it all -- and more -- each time we take the wheel.
But the quote got me thinking more broadly. In this overly-commercialized Christmas season, parents spend hours fighting crowds in parking lots and malls, searching for the latest fad in toys or clothes for their children. What these kids would probably like most is more quality time with their parents.
I thought of the oft-repeated lament expressed by my fellow seniors: what we regret most as we look back is not having spent more time with family and friends. People who were the most successful in business often find that their professional associations fade quickly after retirement, and they're left feeling alone, without a real network of supportive friends. They never had time to develop interests or hobbies outside of work. Now... lots of emptiness.
I thought of the slower pace and the greater focus on family, friends, fun and festivities I found during my many extended visits to Nepal. I remembered the blog post I did last month about Tihar. Of all the festivals in Nepal, Tihar most closely resembles our Christmas. My Nepali friend Sona attached this comment to my post:
Tihar is not only the festival of lights and merrymaking and wealth. It also teaches us to be kind, thankful, and humble.I wish I could say the same for our Christmas. I fear too often these days we are mean-spirited, unappreciative of what we have, and arrogant.
Then I thought, "Hold on John. You sound like the stereotypical old grouch who thinks today's world is rotten and a far cry from the good old days. Look at yourself, and consider all the times you've been in a hurry to get nowhere, and neglected family and friends."
Many examples came to mind. I thought about my obsessive-compulsive fixation with this blog. I recalled occasions when I put completing a blog post ahead of responding to an email from a sick friend, or spending quality time with my housemates and others.
But I needn't beat up on myself. We all struggle with the bombardment of distractions today that make it easy for us to forget what's most important -- family and friends.