Living a life that is fulfilling and meaningful is hard.
This world is constantly challenging us to pursue ambitious goals, keep learning, stay ahead and stay organized if not you get left behind. It seems that while technology and new modern advancements are suppose to help make things faster and more efficient, build connections beyond borders, it also cripples us of our ability to cut off from consistent titillating distractions, to immerse in a good hardcover book for hours, to write a personal Christmas card beyond just the words ‘Merry Christmas’.
Where have all the nuances of touch and hearing and listening gone to? We are moving from the 20th century flashy advertisements bombardments to the 21st century 3 second videos flickering on a social media platform on our phone. We rather engage with the device rather than spend time looking at our dinner companion and have a hearty conversation.
I just paused to take a reflection of my personal life and see how things have changed since 10 years ago.
The ability to write
In the past during my younger days, we are trained and equipped to write, to buy ink refills every other week to complete our essays and comprehension on sheets of paper. We are trained to think and write fast and are extremely familiar with the touch of the tip of a smooth ink pen against a hard solid sheet, writing for hours, trying to write fast enough to keep up with your mind.
Where has that ability to write gone? How far can we go beyond writing our names for travel documents.
The ability to draw
Where have I lost my sense to be able to draw, sketch and sit there for hours fixated on a still object; observing its shadows, the 5 different colours to make that dark reddish brown tone of the bench I am painting on my canvas sheet.
I used to be an art student for 2 years in my school days, and I recalled being able to just paint, sketch and draw in the art room for 4-6 hours straight, completely lost in a zone and world of my own, with just sharp eye observation, creativity and precision in the stroke of every brush mark on the paper.
Now, where has that gone?
With years of studying business school, working in a corporate office behind a screen and using social media as a time filler, I find myself being unable to focus even 1 hour to sit still and draw a butterfly at a recent retreat 2 years back.
Instead, I find myself restless, fidgety and losing the keen sense of focus, fingerwork and tenacity to fill up all the details and shades of the butterfly wings.
And that’s a scary feeling. To know that you have a gift of art and design, and to allow it to go to waste with the constant pursues of the daily grind, the flashing pixels on the screens.
Immerse completely in nature
When was the last time you are completely immersed in a place that takes all of you, that you do not feel the need to capture it on a device, to talk to anyone, to touch and hunt for your phone to check your WhatsApp? When has that innate part of a human to be one with nature gone?
Where have our amazement with the way the birds build their nests next to the bus stop we wait to catch the bus to work. When do we ever have 15 minutes to just stop your tracks and watch the sunset over the horizon instead of rushing to get to places and appointments?
Or even the basic ability to appreciate the first drops of rain instead of complaining that it will slow the traffic down.
When have we lost our sense of wonder?
Lost in a world of instant gratification and unattainable pursuits
LOST…the only time I recalled knowing the tangible feeling of being lost was when I went off the tobogganing track in Germany and found myself on a gravel path far from the ski resort and in some rural mountain area with a few scattered houses.
I had to walk knee-deep in the snow along with the ski lift down to the base with my toboggan, a frightened 16-year-old girl who didn’t know if I would ever see my travelholic parents again.
But these days, I start to witness a different kind of lost within and around me. A loss of identity or meaning of life.
I get hooked to social media or video content online. While commuting, I see people completely filled and consumed by a world of TV programs on NetFlix/ Youtube, Korean dramas and short or long games.
If it’s not these at taking up all your capacity, we have social media platforms proudly bragging to their brands/ clients that they can capture their audiences at the times they engage with it, which on average is 1.5 hours a day for a typical Singaporean. In other parts of South East Asia, it goes up to as high as almost 4 hours at times.
So after investing so much time in these entertainments to bring us joy and laughter, why do we still feel empty, confused and unsure what is our meaning and role of existence.
And it brings me to the point, if we fill our lives with these flickering moments and not appreciate the people, the nature around but use these as escapisms for life, then is there something that we should be worried about.
So with all these lures and draws of modernisation, where are we now?
Are we more connected or disconnected?
More engaged or more bored.
Better communicators or worse?
Are we finding life purposeful and meaningful?
If you struggle with that, just as I had, then maybe its time to take a step back, get in touch with mother nature and look at yourself from afar, and reflect if there are some changes you need to make. Spend time on your own reading, journalling, reflecting and pondering if there is more to life than this.
Search for a higher calling or meaning or reason to your existence, and start taking charge of your life, not just let life take charge of you.