This I Believe

Benjamin - Potomac, Maryland
Entered on February 14, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: carpe diem
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Every day, technology improves, expands and proliferates and the wonders of modern convenience do likewise. Even in the short decade and a half of my life, I’ve witnessed the transition from video cassette to DVD, from walkman to iPod and the beginning of a new generation of eco-friendly cars.

But what has this progress brought? People are always busy. Convenience hasn’t resulted in more leisure time. On the contrary, it has given people the mandate to shove more work into a smaller period of time. The constant pressure of society to do more and to do it faster often leads to errors and oversight, not to mention the amount of stress it has caused.

My parents are the high strung workaholic-types. I once asked my mom why she would get tickets for running stop signs. “I don’t have five seconds to waste”, she replied. My dad often tells me about so-called ‘time-management’ skills. “Work can be divided into four categories according to their urgency and importance. Successful people focus on the ‘not urgent but important’ category.” But is the purpose of life only “to be successful”? Many people wonder how I came to be so mellow, compared to my parents. I guess it was luck of the draw but I’m thankful for it.

I believe life should be taken at a walking pace. This attitude has helped me to deal with the deadline-oriented school system. For example, while writing an essay for English class, a nap and a nice slow brainstorm helped me more than all the SparkNotes in the world. My philosophy allows me to take a job and devote enough time to get it done well. Were they done a bit slower, the Challenger disaster and other tragedies might have been prevented.

I also believe that we should focus more on the process rather than the outcome. I echo the sentiments of Gabriel García Márquez: “Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it.” We should enjoy our life experience. I’ve always thought of this in terms of playing a piece of music. The purpose is not to get to the end of the piece as quickly and efficiently as possible; it’s to play each note expressively for the audience’s and one’s own benefit and pleasure. This also leads to a better product. Being slower lets us enjoy the journey, which I believe is more important than the destination itself.

While I may not be the most eloquent proponent of my philosophy, I’d feel like I’ve accomplished something if I can convince just one person to “stop and smell the roses”, even for only a short while. Life needs to be taken slow to be enjoyed. It isn’t just the destination; it’s the journey. Sometimes I think of what a guy named Abe Lincoln once said: “In the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” This I believe.