07 March 2009

Insanity of the instantaneous

The rate at which American has revved up is a common self-reflection. We’ve heard all the criticisms before- fast food, mtv, the internet. This is old news by now; yet, we have yet to do anything to reverse the trend. The rapid, constant transformation of technology certainly makes the path a treacherous climb, but it is our indifference and apathy that keeps us from simply tackling the problem.
We expect gratification to always be a moment away. Without regard to reason, or to work, or to suffering. We often forget that pleasure requires pain in order to fully be revealed. We choose to take whatever can get in that moment. This epidemic is everywhere:
-in a stock market reliant upon speculation, purely based in the particular emotion of that moment.
-in our news, where every hour of the day must have a bigger, juicier story than the hour before- even if the story is a phantom whisp of smoke- even if the news media has to create its news.
-in our films, where in 1982 the average shot length was 20.2 seconds; 25 years later, it was 2.5 seconds.
-in our sports, where any drug that assures a quicker step up is welcome, until too many people find out.

The economic recession is a direct product of our need for speed. The very cornerstones of our financial system were in the business of guaranteeing loans for irrational pipe dreams. There were rooms full of eager associates, selling subprime loans and securities by the dozen in order to reach their quotas. We trade on the future without any thought of the work required to make good on that future’s promise. It’s as if we’ve lost the capacity to enjoy the collection of moments that eventually lead to gratification.
They are there, always, just as the molecules in air surround us mediums. Without these molecules, we couldn’t receive the varied arrays of sound, or feel the wind pressed flush against our skin. To attempt to replicate those experiences every instant without the building blocks of molecules is insanity. It is the miracle of each of those molecules- of each moment of our lives- that deserves our appreciation. To live within our means, we must learn to appreciate what lies within our means.