NOTE: This is an essay I wrote for English. I just thought I’d share it with you all. The prompt is as follows: Choose an issue of importance to you — the issue could be personal, school related, local, political, or international in scope — and write an essay in which you explain the significance of that issue to yourself, your family, your community, or your generation.
Have you ever noticed when going out to eat that if a group hasn’t been served drinks in the first five minutes or so they will begin to complain? Or how when someone decides that they want to go to a restaurant at six on Friday night they get frustrated at how crowded it is? Some helpless boy is sent from the car, “Go see how long the wait is.” It seems fairly obvious that when people are camped out in a line in the front lawn of the restaurant that it may take a while to be seated. The boy comes back with a shrug and informs everyone that the wait is going to be an hour, so the car pushes onward to another restaurant as if it will find one that isn’t overflowing with people at six on a Friday night.
Stop signs, traffic signals, and other cars are a nightmare for these kinds of people. For a society that wants everything else on the go, we find driving in traffic to be a sort of prepackaged frustration. Like something you could buy in one of those plastic baggies at a grocery store or at a drive-thru. People become so frustrated and angry when they have to stop at a stop sign for five seconds or wait at a traffic signal. It seems as though one minute of waiting would determine life or death. Society wants everything now and on the go. This seems like a fairly detrimental way to live.
I, myself, get caught up in this “on the go” society. Often times, when commuting from one place to another, the rush switch is flipped on and I’m sitting behind the wheel only wishing to pass everyone in front of me and get where I’m going as fast as possible. Then I ask myself, “Why?”, and I have no real answer. For absolutely no reason, I had decided to stress out and rush. One morning last year around Christmas time, I managed to escape. On my way to school I flipped on some good old Charlie Brown Christmas music. I remember that laid back jazz flowing from the keys of the piano with a hint of Christmas spirit. I was so relaxed and happy that I actually drove the thirty five mph speed limit all the way to school. That whole day was a good day.
Other times all the rush has transformed my life into a checklist. I’ve watched it turn relationships into bullets on a power point presentation. Do you ever find yourself saying to someone, “Hello! How are you doing?” and if they answer with anything other than “Good,” then you felt like you were going to be late for something? I’ve been there before. The reason is because we just wanted to check “greeting” off our list and move on. The rushing around turns deep things, like conversation, smiles, and hugs, into surface level items on a to-do list.
I believe in the simple beauties that surround us everyday, things as simple as sunshine, fresh air, and laughter. I believe in the beauty of a smile or a hug. I love finding myself among a group of friends, and it’s more than just lunch or conversation. It’s relationships between people who really know and love each other. In a society that is constantly moving, none of these beauties can be seen. I remember reading a part of Life of Pi by Yann Martel that really resonated with me. Pi said that he hadn’t realized how beautiful the ocean was because he had only seen it while rushing along the top on a boat. He said that it was like trying to see all the beauty of a rain forest while driving by at sixty mph in your car. If society can’t even be patient enough to stop at stop signs for a few seconds, it certainly doesn’t have the time to let the simple beauties soak in.
I attempt to find time in this busy society, where everything is always moving, to stop and take a breath. I attempt to live a deep, authentic life in which everything I do is intentional and not just a checklist. I encourage you, the next time you decide to go to a restaurant at six on Friday night, to step back, take a deep breath, and simply enjoy being.