The sound of crickets chirping late at night is the ultimate sound of summer. There is something about stepping out of a freezing, air-conditioned building and into a humid Carolina night that just makes you go ah, like you’ve been doing this all your life, like you never left the front porches and backyards of your childhood.
I love that. I may not particularly enjoy the sight of hopping crickets, but I do so love their summer sounds.
Anyway. Tonight, I am wondering about values. I think it’s because I’m loving the slowness of the nights here at Duke, the solid eight hours of sleep a night, the time to work out and do yoga and breathe and read… and that kind of slowing down and being able to do things during my day that really matter is important to me. I didn’t quite realize this while being a full-time student, but it IS possible to do all those things and still work/hold a job at the same time. And you know what? It feels great. And so, when I saw the below screen flashing at me while in line at McDonald’s the other day (sometimes, just sometimes, I crave a Big Mac without the meat patties), it really irked me.
Let me switch gears and and take you to Africa. Katrina is in Namibia right now, and I am jealous! She’s been blogging about how she’s really slowing down there, taking the time to enjoy things, and falling asleep every night with a free, empty mind. I think it’s one to thing to read things like that and think, “Wow, how nice, I wonder what that’s like…” but it’s something else to have truly experienced that and to now feel like that kind of peace is out of grasp. I completely fell into that kind of easy-going life routine in Ghana, and while I wouldn’t relive the hard adjustment from Ghana back into my Western lifestyle, I do feel so nostalgic for my slow-paced days in Africa after reading Katrina’s blog posts. Sometimes, you just have to go to know, and in many ways, I enjoyed life the most I ever have while in Ghana. One huge reason was because I was surrounded by people who truly valued the things they did each day, who took the time to enjoy what they were doing. So, (back to McDonalds), when I see small albeit indicative things like a neon sign bragging about average service time in the States, I feel dejected. I feel like we’ve got it all backwards, that something about the way we go about our days, the way we order and eat food, the way we check-in for appointments and flights online because we hate the idea of sitting with our thoughts in a waiting room or airport is just not right. What is the value of “saving time” if we are not spending that extra time on the things that really matter? What do we rush around for, why is a forty-second serve time worth bragging about?
There’s a new book out I read about in the NY Times recently called Self–Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society, by John W. Gardner. In it, he says that society is continuously being recreated by its members and that the task for every new generation is to re-create values continuously in their own behavior. He goes on to acknowledge that while this responsibility will burden some, it will “summon others to greatness.” I think we need some reevaluating and recreating when it comes to our society’s relationship with time. I think valuing time for the sake of enjoyment instead of efficiency needs to be something more people believe in. I think that food should be slow much more often than it is fast and that clocks should not be set forward to ensure we are never late.
I also think I should maybe refrain from occasionally visiting McDonalds in the spirit of writing more positive blog posts…
but, mostly, I think that Richard Bach had it right: Enjoy life, enjoy gazing at the stars. It’s the opposite of ambition, but it gives life balance.