I recently heard of an anonymous study done on cell phone users across the country. In the study they found that 50% of people never travel more than 3 miles from their house. And add to that, the same people averaged only 5 places they traveled to throughout their week. Pretty frikkin sad huh? Get up; go to work. After work, go to the gym, go home, eat dinner, watch TV, go to bed! Shoot me now please! (I felt bored just typing that) There must be more to life than that, right? We all know that it is good to have routines; ways of doing things that eliminate wasted energy like hanging your keys up on the key rack when you walk in the house so you don’t have to spend 20 minutes looking for them in the morning (after you got up late). Or, figuring out what you are going to wear to work tomorrow before it’s morning so you don’t learn that your favorite jeans are in the washer (after you got up late)… Or, putting your tools back in the toolbox so you don’t have to use the butter knife for a screwdriver or your shoe for a hammer. But sadly, we tend to try to fit our whole lives into routines and then life becomes…well, routine.. Same thing, same system, same stuff, different day. No-one really wants to live that way, do they? I don’t!
So, how can we escape the mundane and the same-o, same-o? How can we use our time rather than finding things to occupy our time? How can we summon up the courage to actually turn the TV off? I know it seems weird but there actually was a time when there was no TV. Scary, I know? What the heck did people do? I remember years ago when my wife and I first got married and lived in a ghetto little apartment down on Adam’s Avenue in Ogden, UT. (Utah’s mini-attempt at the other side of town). We were poor college students. One day the unthinkable happened; the TV broke! For a few days we stared at the spot it used to be in, above a table and we lamented its demise. What the heck were you supposed to do in the evening? We broke out the Scrabble and the Backgammon and played some games together. Can you imagine that? Married folks doing something together. So, I got to thinking…hmmm. No-one rushes home to watch mindless TV do they? Oh I know we’ve got our Grey’s Anatomy, our sports, and the Good Wife ~ nothing wrong with that. I mean that thing you do where you turn on the TV as soon as you get home and then flip through the channels looking for something to…wait for it….occupy your time. Again, shoot me now!
This is no condemnation because I know how it happens to us. It happens the same way that we are coerced into driving the exact same way to work everyday. (At my house if we run out of Dunkin Donuts coffee you would think someone did a homicide there from my reaction ~ umm, I digress) We eat the same meals, go to the same Target, same gas station and we even do the same exercises at the gym. It happens to us because it is a whole lot easier to do things the exact same way, everyday. No thought required; no adventure; no scary unknown. We complain that we don’t have enough time to work on our new book or our new job or our new hobby because…because we can’t break ourselves away from Facebook, our iPhone, our Ipad or our cell phone or from tweeting (or from the TV in the livingroom, bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen). We have as much time as we have always had, but we don’t see it being eaten away day after day, month after month. In fact, we don’t see anything at all…
So, how can we escape the routine, the mundane, the boring? We have to do something different. We have to shake things up a little. We have to open our eyes and look around us. What’s going on? What kind of life do we dream of but can’t ever seem to get to? What do we want out of our next 24 hours? What do we enjoy? What makes our heart beat faster? What do we have to offer this world? What unique skill do we possess that can help someone’s life get a little brighter; a little better; a little more hopeful? When I travel to Northern California on business I never actually turn the TV on. I exercise, I read, I write, I go out to eat and usually end up at the lounge. Interesting things happen at the lounge. After a glass or two of wine people do something odd. They talk. They tell you stuff. Now despite having to sit through some endless, pointless conversations about seeds or the competitive nature of lettuce, some conversations are actually useful. Sometimes people want to learn about God or even unlearn some bologna about God. Some people tell you about their failing marriage. Some people give you advice about your marriage or your kids or yourlife.
You and I have to make up our minds to travel outside of our 3 mile prison. We need to take a different road. We need to tear the iPhone from our fingers and talk to someone. 30 minutes of thoughtful, meaningful conversation with your wife is better than 5 hours of mindless reality TV. Family discussions at the Washington household last for hours and trump electronic entertainment times a hundred! (Just ask them…)
You want a better, more fulfilling life? Find yourself a human and talk to them. Who knows you might share something that changes their lives forever and lo’ someone might even be able to help you out!
In the words of that odd cat, Rick James, “Were bustin out of this L7 square, we done braided our hair, we don’t mind if you stare!” And if that was too urban, just do something different!
Find a human…and talk!