Life is about emotions, memories, and personal growth. There is no modern tool or electronic device that can provide these human characteristics and traits. However, some of the best ways to obtain them is by sharing time with other people, through experiencing physical labor, and by gaining a genuine understanding that life is short. Our days have become filled with deadlines, finances, traffic, and an ever increasing desire to become more efficient, just so we can do more work in the same limited amount of time. People have become so consumed with the modern definition of success and rely so heavily upon modern conveniences and electronics to achieve it, that many people have forgotten what is truly important. I believe the more advanced our world becomes, the more important the simple things in life become.
Interacting with other human beings is essential to living a fulfilling life. Text messaging, instant messaging, online dating, and similar modern conveniences are not a substitute for human interaction. There have already been dozens of studies and books published about how many of the generation Y cohort, those born between 1977 and 2000, have severely under-developed social skill because they rely on the comfort of isolation that is provided by using a computer to interact with others. The virtual world allows them to not worry about the fear of rejection, embarrassment, or being held accountable for their actions. These kids are sometimes described as “cold” or “emotionless” because they don’t know how to interact with other people face to face so they keep to themselves. The nature of human life is about things like overcoming the fear of rejection and just walking up to and asking a girl out, or by keeping my mouth shut when I know if I don’t, I will most likely get punched. Life extends far beyond computers, and if I never get out in the real world and interact with people, I am denying myself the happiness gained by holding the door open for a stranger, saying hello to the grocery cashier and calling him or her by name when I can read their name tag, or simply smiling at a passerby. It is by doing these things, by interacting with others, that the opportunity to build my character is present
Never underestimate the value of an honest day of hard labor. It is my opinion that one of the best ways to build character and develop a greater appreciation for the world surrounding us is through the humbling experience of hard labor. There is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment I get when I literally put my blood, sweat, and tears into something. I am a General Contractor and I make people’s ideas a reality. Although I don’t need to do any of the physical work myself, I occasionally still choose to personally perform the labor simply because I enjoy being able to sit back at a jobsite at the end of long day and say to myself, “Wow! I made that.”. Many of the people who hire me barely know how to use hammer or shovel. These people will never know the joy of labor. With their money they will have purchased a beautiful flower garden that is maintained professionally. They will enjoy the garden from their kitchen window, but they will never gain a true appreciation for what went into creating it, and they will surely never understand the sense of pride that I gain by creating something with my own hands. I am very fortunate to have such skills. I am even more fortunate that when I take time to smell the roses, that they smell so much sweeter because I grew them myself.
With the advances in medicine that are allowing us to live longer with each subsequent generation, it’s important not to forget that life is finite and to make time to enjoy it now. We can all be burdened by the demands of work, school, finances, etc., but all too often people put off doing the things that really matter in life because they figure that there will be time to get to those things later. If the average life expectancy was only 47 years old, as it was in 1900, would we still delay doing the things we have always wanted to do? Would we continue to pass up the little things like occasionally watching a sunrise or sunset because of a work deadline to meet? The fact is that life is not infinite. Life will end and it may end sooner than you expect, leaving you with no more chances to say “another time”. I take care of those things that need to be attended to, but I make sure to always schedule time to enjoy life now, for myself and with those that I love. It is the little things that I enjoy along the way and the times I share with loved ones that will create the memories of a life well lived.
Life is about people and the intangible. Life cannot be lived through a computer or be honestly appreciated with a faster appliance or tool. Life is not about bank accounts, bigger houses, or better cars. Although life will inevitably bring the sorrows of such things like heartbreak, disappointment, injury, and death, it’s because of these that we can also truly appreciate things like the warmth of a smile, the feeling you get when holding the hand of the one you love, the sound of a child’s laughter, the beauty of a sunset skyline, and all the memories of them you collect and hold dear. Those are what life is about, and they can only be obtained if you slow down just a little bit and make the time to enjoy whatever you can. Spend time with people that make you smile, and especially those you love. When I have reached my life’s end will I be thinking about computers, cell phones, work, or money? No. When my times comes my thoughts will be of the ones I love, wonderful memories, and the happiness I gave this world, and I will be able to pass peacefully into the unknown because I know I truly lived my life in real time, and didn’t just wait for a more convenient time to live it.