No time for leisure – The Hindu


Man invented cart, then invented wheel, then tamed animals to pull carts, then invented engine, then multiplied those engines and machines and flooded our paths with vehicular traffic, one for each, wow!. But what for? Well, well, the original idea was to make ease and gain time, but is the objective achieved or purpose stands defeated?

Where did the domestic pounding mortars, the glory of kitchens go? We have all varieties of juicers and grinders in our kitchens, yet cooking is a more stressful job for my generation than it ever was for our grandmothers and in fact even for their great grandmothers. Why? Of course, we have recipe books, cookery channels flooded with videos at hand, yet our food lacks the taste, health and variety. Why? Because we need to cook within a very short time frame, pack each one’s lunch boxes (six hours before lunch time), save a minute or two to stuff in what we cooked in the name of breakfast, hit the road, navigate through the traffic congestion, compete with everyone who is competing against time and finally punch in our biometric attendance. Needless to say our lifespan is deduced by multiples of minutes we are late by, thanks to the daily dose of stress hormone. And please mind that we humans are not alone in this haste, our hens must fatten quicker, our crops must grow faster and our cows must milk earlier…

Why can I not see pulleys over bore wells, rather why can I not see wells around? All I see is electrical motors pumping water to overhead tanks, pipe lines and taps and all kinds of fancy sanitary fittings, yet, shower is a ritual, an item in check list rather than a relaxation or rejuvenation. Perhaps we have ceased to acknowledge what our sensory inputs say! I must add at this point, gyms do have a lot of lookalikes of pulleys and mortars and all sorts of other heavy weights that we no longer lift for free at our homes.

Children fared better, learned real skills, acquired knowledge from books, from experiences that came out of play, had time to listen to stories, and imbibe wisdom passed down by their lineage and of course grew taller than wider when school hours were shorter. Now we teach them so much on how plants make food but leave them with no time to plant one or uproot one to see what’s inside or to even taste some wild fruits.

Homemakers were less lonely, less tired, in better spirits and in better company prior to the era of the Internet. We had better relations with our neighbors when they lived beyond huge boundary walls than now, although we share the same house number with 20 families, living one above the other. We were better connected literally when we were not so well connected figuratively. We attended marriages, visited on births and attended condolence meets in real, but now, all we do is online wishes on social media to our arch rivals and friends alike.

Traveling was far more adventurous when we didn’t have Google maps. We would see real faces on buses and trains, heard their real stories and perspectives, drew lessons, drew ideas, and we were actually oriented to time place and people, prior to our engagement with our super smartphones. Now we do it differently: we look at faces in Facebook, listen to deliberately bombarded fabricated truths, from authentic and inauthentic sources, believe what we are made to believe, observe nothing, learn nothing and worst of all, man has stopped using his most evolved tool of intellect… and that’ is “thinking”, “pondering” and “being inquisitive”. Unfortunately, we are no longer the supreme species that uses reason, that exercises its cognition, that appreciates life and its blessings.

Not that we don’t want to, but we can’t. Why? Because there is no enough time! So where has the time gone, where has the leisure gone? One person can be busy, two can, but if everyone under the sun is short of time then it’s not our fault. Perhaps the clocks are designed to tick faster just like everything else, or more likely explanation is the earth is spinning faster, leaving us time just enough to do the essentials…

I am not making a case against inventions, definitely not. I am making a case against defeating the very purpose of inventions. Everything we recounted in this discourse was designed to gain time. Time to live our lives with people we love and care for, to think to translate our thoughts into words and transcribe words into action, to evolve, to learn new skills, to create a legacy and leave it behind us for our future generation….

But what are we doing instead? We allowed materialism to become the way of life, we are in rush all the time because we are consumed in selling our product, whatever it may be, or our services if that’s the case, in order to generate means to buy some other goods and services for ourselves… Things that we need, things that we don’t, but we buy, to name a few, clothes, different clothes, shoes, many more shoes, cars, longer cars, homes, bigger homes, assets, more assets and so on. If we get time, we invest it in further money making, thus spinning it into a complete vicious circle…

Yes, we are at the pinnacle of consumerism, but the sorry thing is, we are unintelligent consumers, we buy what we are made to buy by the smart advertising agencies, the societal trends and the factors that govern commerce… we do not use reason any longer, as to what’s worth what… and we are so carried away by the finished products that we don’t spare a moment to think, analyze what went into its making. Is it good for me at all?

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