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I have noticed that our society today has turned into one that prefers “instants.” Instant communication, food, gratification, socializing, and all the other iterations of quickness and experience. Some cities never sleep like New York and people that work 16 hours a day for 7 days a week and enjoy it (i.e., the workaholics). Suffice it to say, our culture at the present is one that places great importance, even pride, in being constantly on the move. Yet, I believe it is due to this that our society will break down and collapse since we have forgotten that at times we need to stop, think, and evaluate what has happened to us and just relax.
For me, my conceptual metaphor that has had the greatest impact on my life is the belief that: “even the strongest engines need rest.” A person should not always be on the move, we should not always demand things to be done instantly and immediately, and we should strive to reflect on past events rather than constantly move forward regardless of the consequences. This is a lesson that took me quite a while to learn, however, it has influenced my actions to this day since it resounds with all the adverse situations that have happened to me that could have been avoided if I had just taken the time to stop, look and reflect.
Life has seasons too
One of the things people fail to realize is that your life has seasons just like the environment you live in. Spring in a person’s life can be associated with opportunities that come your way, the creation of the initial spark or drive that makes you want to take up new activities and new experiences and acts as a springboard to help you become a better version of yourself. Summer is when things get serious, and you actively pursue those activities that started in spring resulting in new outcomes, better results, and a general feeling of accomplishment for tasks that were accomplished.
Fall is when things start to slow down, where we begin to feel the need for rest, introspection, and internal self-reflection. Winter is when things grind to a halt completely and indicate a necessary period of rest so that you can get ready for the upcoming spring and summer, where a fully rested body and spirit are necessary.
Unfortunately, most people seem to live under the assumption that their entire life is nothing more than one constant cycle of spring and summer. They keep forcing themselves to move forward and go from one activity to another without heed for rest or self-introspection. They always state phrases such as “YOLO” (You Only Live Once) or “I will rest when I am dead.” Yet, I have noticed that it is usually people like these that develop the most problems in life.
They always seem stressed they seem to lack energy, and in the end, they tend to develop the most emotional problems out of all the other types of people that I have encountered. The reason for this goes back to my conceptual metaphor of “even the strongest engines need rest.” If you ignore the necessary seasons of life, if you keep on going against the rest that your body and spirit need, then it is very likely that you will destroy yourself from within.
One personal experience I had that was similar to this was during my high school life where I developed the notion that my self-worth was tied to how I was perceived by others. I constantly tried to get the highest grades in a class by studying all night, when I got home, I kept on working out to get what people deemed as a “socially acceptable body,” and I always tried to become as sociable as possible with all of the people I knew (i.e., I had far too many friends to even remember their names properly). The result was that one day I simply collapsed from exhaustion and had to be taken to the hospital for a week.
What I learned from this was that to ignore the phases of life, to constantly push the self to the straining point, and to accept no rest at all is the surest way to die. In our natural environment, the desert can be thought of as a perfect example of what happens when an area is constantly subject to a constant summer. Very little grows there, and conditions are harsh and dry with little in the way of sufficient sustenance. This type of environment is the outcome for anybody that constantly keeps their engine running without heed for the seasons of life.
When you feel the need to rest, to slow down, and to take in your life as it is at the present, do not ignore this feeling, embrace it as an indication that it is time to rest, think about your life, and examine who you are as a person. This does not mean that you should stop striving in becoming a better version of who you are rather, what you have to understand is that the seasons of life do not follow the seasons of the Earth.
The seasons in your life can have dozens of possible cycles that can happen throughout the year. These are the times when you feel happy and content or when you feel the need to be sad and withdrawn. It is necessary to embrace these cycles and let your engine be active and rest when necessary.
Lack of Appreciation
When was the last time you showed appreciation for the work that went into a burger that you bought at a fast-food restaurant, for the internet that you used at home, or the mobile phone service you use to message and talk to your friends? For most of us, the answer is “none whatsoever”. As mentioned earlier, our society is one where the desire for the “instant” has become a constant feature of whatever we want or need. We need food instantly, we want to talk instantly to other people, or that we want instant results from the activities that we enter into. The problem with this is that we have lost our sense of appreciation for what goes into these products and services and become a society that feels “entitled” to having these conveniences.
This attitude is related to my conceptual metaphor of “even the strongest engines need rest” since we always concentrate on getting things instantly, we have forgotten about the processes that went into their creation. We simply think that food is food; technology is simply technology and ignores what might have gone into their creation. Our internal engine for instant gratification has been running for so long that we have become desensitized towards an appreciation for products and services. The result is that we simply do not care how something is made or where it comes from and simply want it handed to us on a silver platter.
My personal experience in this matter came in the form of the very clothes I wear. Five years ago, I was a fan of a particularly popular brand of clothing (I will not state the name since I might get sued), I had every style of shirt, every type of belt, and nearly my entire wardrobe was filled with this particular brand. I did not care how the clothes were made or where they came from, I simply wanted to buy them, wear them, and look good.
Looking back, I have to admit that this was a good indicator that my “engine” of morality was running for far too long since I did not perceive that maybe the clothes I bought may have been made through immoral means. It was on January 21, 2009, that I encountered a documentary that was being broadcast on National Geographic that changed the way I looked at fashion. While I may have forgotten what the precise title was, what I do recall from watching it was the exploitative practices utilized by clothing companies.
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I saw how they used child labor in India under unsanitary and even dangerous conditions with low pay and little in the way of benefits. I saw children lined up working, stitching, and stamping all forms of belts, clothes, and shoes. I listened as a child was interviewed about the exploitative conditions, the lack of concern from the employers, and the general deplorable actions that were happening to provide us with the clothes we wore. Finally, and to my shame, I saw the very shirt I was wearing being sewn by a child who was revealed to have died later on due to “unexplained causes in the workplace”. That made me sick to my stomach; it showed me how little I knew about the ethical ramifications of instant gratification without heed for how things were made.
The problem is that I am not the only one who was ignorant of this. Millions around the world constantly buy food, clothes, and gadgets that were made through practices that can be described as ecologically and socially damaging yet we do not care so long as we get the products we desire. For me, this is an indication that the “engines” that drive our morals and ethics have been running for far too long and need rest and examination.
Our culture at the present is one that places great importance, even pride, in being constantly on the move. Yet, I believe it is due to this that our society will break down and collapse since we have forgotten that at times we need to stop, think, evaluate what has happened to us, and just relax. We have focused so much on “being on the go” and getting things instantly that as a species it is inevitable that we will collapse if we do not slow down and think. No matter how strong, how adaptable, or how great we are, the fact remains that even the strongest engines need rest, and that is something we all need to re-learn to save us from ourselves.