WHEN TOAST FALLS BUTTER SIDE DOWN, Amazon and the sNOWpocalypse.
The Seattle Snowpocalypse hit as powerfully as it was predicted this past week and the anticipatory excitement was electric. Lots of shopping, media images of long check out lines and empty grocery aisles, none of which is all that surprising when a city relatively unfamiliar with snow and very familiar with the speed of NOW and the culture of Amazon Prime is about to enter into a white out with no access.
Amazon’s consistent model of speedy same day and next day delivery of practically anything you could ever dream of has turned an otherwise progressive city to believe that “I want what I want when I want it” and the answer can unequivocally be YES. Same day. No charge. Any person on any average day in this city can have a craving for a shiny object pop into the rumination wheel of the mind and decide that it is necessary to have it, NOW. Sitting in meeting at work, with a three-touch sequence of the thumb and forefinger one can order a case of La Croix sparkling water via the Amazon Prime App on a smart phone and VOILA! Pamplemousse is waiting at the front door by 6. No extra charge for this speedy acquisition if you are a Prime member (I know, because I’ve done it).
The trouble with this seemingly efficient and expeditious business model is multifaceted, in fact it is endless. There is an epidemic today of the “constant checklist rumination”, and “IF ONLY” mind that keeps the majority of Seattle (and far beyond) moving mentally at a nonstop pace overlaid with fear and constant worry of “I’m not there yet”, “I’m not good enough yet”, etc. This is a powerful driver in the increasing percentage of the population suffering with anxiety and insomnia. People are chasing constantly after a finish line that is so elusive- always seemingly in sight, yet never quite there.
There is always more more more. More to do, more to buy, more work, more shopping, more calories to burn, more homework to be done, more muscles to sculpt, more downward dogging to be done, etc.
People are exhausted. We have lost access to the shut-off switch entirely. Caffeine and it’s availability in all forms everywhere certainly fuels this race of minds. Giving the illusion and indeed short lived reality that even when you run out of your own FUEL (one of my personal favorite caffeine-watering holes in the city) there is more you can buy, pour back and keep on going.
I hear from friends and colleagues every day, “I am just so tired”, or “I’m exhausted, I just want a weekend of nothing”. The current Amazon-fueled breed of the striving is of course not a sustainable mode of operation for human beings long term and the burn out rate is akin to a professional football player or tennis player; after 35, they collapse like toast, falling butter side down. Perhaps financially sound, but certainly not mentally.
One would think that the recent snow storm and complete silencing of the normal urban chaos and speed would be met with some degree of welcomed serenity. The gift of having our ‘human doings’ brought to a standstill and the possible welcoming of an invitation to be ‘human beings’ seemed like an early February gift of Nature to me. I am not naïve to the reality that there are real financial stressors that storms create and the lack of access to work, health care and childcare needs, are very real fears for many. This is not what I am alluding to however. It is the apparent inability to BE home, to BE present, to PLAY with our children in the snow, on the earth, without any devices. Although I did witness an abundance of this playful presence in my neighborhood, where people of all ages were sledding down hills on sheet pans and boxes, the NPR highlights on Monday morning aired stories about parents going “crazy with their kids demanding their attention” and continued school closures making people “lose their minds”.
Can we find a way to keep up the productive speed and pace if we choose, yet also remember how to slow down, be still and be fascinated? Is it possible to learn again the mode of just being, human beings awed by the simple things? It seems like a necessary undertaking in order to prevent more toast and the ultimate burn out of the species. Isn’t this precisely what we are truly craving when otherwise mindlessly filling the endless cyber cart of Amazon Prime with shiny things? It is really so simple. It is really something that is never lost and has always been here. And it’s FREE. Go see, for yourself, SLOWLY….