I often heard my mother discuss the fact that she felt time was going more quickly as she aged. I often thought it couldn’t go quick enough. But then I was young and rarely reflected on the fact that we are not here on a permanent basis. Lately I find myself connecting to many of my mothers’ statements especially the ones around how life seems to whoosh by with each passing year. It seems that I just had Thanksgiving dinner and now it’s here again. How did that happen? And Christmas is just around the corner. Of course it’s not easy to forget either holiday since the media relentlessly feeds us their ads to buy, buy, buy starting in late August. Christmas decorations are already up and we haven’t even cleared the Thanksgiving dinner. Black Friday is closing in on us, but now there’s some stores that will be open at 9Pm Thanksgiving night in case you have an obsessive need to go to a store and leave your guests in the living room. Forget hanging out and reflecting on the day’s gathering. It’s much better to think about what you’ll be going to purchase while you’re chewing on a drumstick. We have turned life into a constant need to access the future without living in the present. This shift in how our culture lives their lives creates a great deal of stress My mother and her generation seemed to savor each holiday without feeling obligated to discuss the one coming. I have talked to many people about this phenomenon and it may be time to reflect on spending more time honoring the moments we’re in rather than anticipating or dreading the ones that are coming. This is not an easy practice in a society that has come to value “doing” rather than “being”. However, perhaps the gift you may want to access this season is reminding yourself throughout the day to just breathe. When you’re stressed out you breathe more rapidly. The simple act of inhaling and exhaling slowly and purposefully allows you to be aware of the present moment. Every moment that we honor with a deep breath allows us to feel more peaceful by helping to quell the inner critics that never stop reminding us of “what’s next”.Try it when you’re at the Thanksgiving dinner table and Aunt Hattie tells you the turkey is dry, or when you’re lying in bed worried about how you’re going to get all your shopping done, or in dozens of stressful situations that pass and soon become part of the tapestry of life. Just breathe!
I was in the Chicago airport waiting to board a flight to Vancouver, Canada, when the gate agent announced that the flight was going to be delayed. She then asked the passengers to line up and re-book their flights. There was a lot
of sighing and distressed looks but for the most part everyone maintained a certain degree of calm.
However, one gentleman ( and I say that loosely), kept trying to weasel his way to the front of the line.
Finally he was able to get the gate agents attention and began to assault her with demands as to his absolute need to get to Vancouver as he had extremely urgent business.
She kept her cool and kept repeating that there were a lot of people ahead of him and he would have to wait his turn.
It was then that he decided to use the phrase that has become the mantra of the 21st century culture of entitlement.
“Do you know who I am” he snarled. She had a sardonic grin on her face as she picked up her microphone and said, “Attention, attention,does anyone in this room know who this man is”? He seems to have lost his identity”.
There was suddenly an outburst of guffaws from those in line. The man, now red-faced and looking like he had been constipated for months responded, “Well, we’ll see about that! I want to speak to your supervisor, where is he”? The agent, once again with a huge smirk on her face said ” He’s at the end of the line waiting for me to get him a new flight”.
This type of behavior has grown exponentially over the years as more and more of our society feels their “special” or entitled. They have in essence lost their identity and their humanity. When we begin to believe that we are the center of the universe instead of a piece of the universe, we lose sight of the fact that we are part of a global community that needs to exhibit patience, kindness, compassion and a lightness of being.
The holidays seem to increase the stress that is already so much a part of our society. Perhaps this season, more than ever give the gift of patience, a gift that could influence peace and good will towards all mankind.