It’s common to see people walking together, not talking to each other but talking on their phones, parents at the play area with kids but happily texting, conference calls during breakfast or family dinner time. If this has become a common sight for people in relationships, people who are yet to get into a relationship often say that they are “too busy” to find the right one.
Being fully present in a relationship – how hard is that? Is it too much of an ask for a generation that boasts of being busy, being multi-taskers and virtually connected all the time? We take pride in “being busy” so much so that being busy has become a confirmation of our worthiness. A relationship sometime gets lost in our long “to-do” list. Even when it’s in the list, it’s often multi-tasked with many other items on the list. It’s like an email box cluttered with ads and offers we signed up (or never signed up) for, and an important email that’s lost in this clutter. Unless this email is marked as “important”, and the useless clutter marked as “spam” – it’s easy to miss that one email that you were supposed to read and respond on priority. Busyness is the new age anesthesia. (Anesthesia is defined as a temporary state consisting of unconsciousness, loss of memory, lack of pain, and muscle relaxation.) But let’s remind ourselves that anesthesia needs to be a temporary state.
Busyness shouldn’t numb us from our moments of love, self-realization and sense of everyday wonder. Our worth is not defined by our “busyness”, but our lives are defined by the quality of those moments that we truly “live” and cherish. Our relationships are less defined by the materialistic splurge, and more by the attention we give to the relationship.
We are a generation of “technologically connected” – it keeps us connected with a multitude of people like never before. But, is it always about mindful connections? May be not – and that’s because even when technology celebrates connectedness, it encourages retreat, it makes it easier to avoid the emotional work of “being present”. So “emoticons” when you really need a hug, an LOL when you actually want to hear a burst of laughter. As a “digital migrant” I might be over exaggerating this phenomenon of being far less emotionally connected. May be digital migrants are still adjusting to the digital way of life. The “digital natives” would be way more comfortable living constantly digitally connected. They would be probably more “settled” in the digitally connected world, and would learn where to draw the lines.
Like the feeling of worthiness, an equally contributing factor to “created busyness” is the “fear of vulnerability”. We try to numb our vulnerabilities by being busy. When people say “I’m too busy for a relationship” – unconsciously are we trying to numb some of our vulnerabilities? As research professor Brene Brown beautifully puts it as part of her extensive research on vulnerability and what we need to understand is that – “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.” We cannot selectively numb emotions – when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path. Our strength is in our acceptance of our vulnerability.
If you close your eyes and recall times that are very clear in your memory without the aid of photographs, videos, checking old Facebook posts – you would clearly recall each and every bit of the moments when you were fully present, the moments you were vulnerable and the moments of mindfulness. This, my friend, is the greatest treasure each one of us would ultimately have.
So, in the midst of the clutter and distractions let’s remind ourselves to – Pause, Feel, Savor and be Present!