Thursday, April 21, 2011

So Many Good things, So Little Time… and Is that Okay?

One big reason for me to leave my full time job was the hope of having more time to read good books, to watch good movies and to pursue other good things which I couldn't get to because I was forever pressed for time. To my way of thinking, my job (which I loved) took away from my pursuit of too many other good things.

I have come across very few people who felt the same amount of pressure as I did about time marching on relentlessly. (I've gotten much better now.) Therefore, it was a delight when I read Linda Holmes's NPR MonkeySee article and saw that she knew exactly what I was feeling.

In her post "The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We're All Going To Miss Almost Everything," she writes:

The vast majority of the world's books, music, films, television and art, you will never see.
This exact thought used to leave me depressed.

Linda then goes on to list out two possible responses to this immense realization. One response is active and aggressive culling -- to try to pick and choose what we consume because our time is so limited. ("So many movies, so little time.") The second response is surrender – to make peace with this realization of our finitude. The latter is the one I have trouble with but am making progress towards, albeit very slowly.

As Linda describes it:
Surrender is the moment when you say, "I bet every single one of those 1,000 books I'm supposed to read before I die is very, very good, but I cannot read them all, and they will have to go on the list of things I didn't get to."

It is the recognition that well-read is not a destination; there is nowhere to get to.
[…]

That's your moment of understanding that you'll miss most of the music and the dancing and the art and the books and the films that there have ever been and ever will be, and right now, there's something being performed somewhere in the world that you're not seeing that you would love.

The only part where I disagree with her post is where she tries to convince us that missing is actually a good thing.
"It's sad, but it's also ... great, really," she writes
Maybe I still haven't quite surrendered enough to see how it is so great. I can see myself coming to terms with the fact that in this lifetime, all I can ever hope to savor is a tiny cup dipped in a vast ocean of wondrous things. Linda makes it sound like experiencing is an all-or-nothing deal. But to my way of thinking, savoring two cups from that ocean is better than savoring just one.

But that's just a very small nitpick.

Linda's entire post is excellent. Don't miss reading it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Heres why missing out is such a good thing.

(1) Axiom: Knowing you over the years, I think you would want the world to be an infinitely beautiful place

(2) Fact: Your capacity for enjoyment is finite

(3) Conclusion: Therefore you must miss out.

If you dont want to miss out, you would require that the world has only a finite amount of happiness that is all available to you. Which would be inconsistent with the first axiom.

So its great that (3) holds so you may have (1) to be true knowing that (2) is non-negotiably true.

Arvind