It All Goes Back in the Box

This is the time of year when we look forward to the end of an extremely busy and hurried time of the year—the holiday season. Filled with emotion, both good and bad, often at the conclusion of this period, some of us take a moment to reflect on what we are going to do different this year, what we are going to stop, what we are going to start, or maybe how we are going to slow down. And we need to slow down, but our environment wants us to speed up.

Everything around us says quicker, better, faster and hurry up already! U.S. Postal Service, who is in dire straits, is called snail mail, being replaced by much faster e-mail. E-mail is not fast enough for some, so texting is a nanosecond faster. We often value time more than quality and price.

In 1967, expert testimony to a committee of the U.S. Senate stated that due to technological advances and the labor-saving, time-saving technology, that in 25 years, people will work 32 weeks per year, 22 hours per week and retire by age 40. Is this the situation today? I think not.

What I am suggesting is that some of us have what I call Hurry Sickness. For most of us, there is are not enough hours in the day. When you come to a stoplight and there are two lanes, do you find yourself calculating which car you should get behind so you can proceed through the intersection the fastest? You assess the makes of the cars and whether one is a sports car or not. You get behind the sports car if you have this sickness. A similar reaction can be seen in every grocery store check out lane.

We say that things will slow down, or that we’ll do it when we have more time, later. But we don’t have more time later. Some say, “When I finally have enough, when my barn is finally full, when I am financially secure, when I get that ultimate promotion, when I’ve stored up financial security, then I’ll have time for what is really important.”

In the meantime, what do you do with a cold marriage or one that has failed altogether? Or with children that learn early that they are not as important as a briefcase, a meeting, and a garage full of stuff? It is similar to the main objective of the best-selling board game of all times—accumulate everything. In Monopoly, possessions are a matter of survival and hanging on to our money is what it is all about. But, like our lives, “it all goes back in the box.” None of it is really yours—you just hang onto it for a while.

Filled barns and bulging portfolios don’t make a difference. Beauty, money, fame, or power doesn’t do it. So while you can, look around you and decide what is really important, because one day, it will all go back in the box.

~thomas ogden

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