Hurry it up
BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - November 7, 2020 - 12:00am

I remember the day when the computer guys boasted that personal computers would make life and work easier because it will minimize our workload once it becomes affordable and ubiquitous. Has it? I do not think so. Computers did not reduce our workload; it only maximized our capability to do more. So the more technology we have, the more work is expected from us at the same amount of time given. And so time has sped up.

The world has sped up to a frenetic pace. Everybody seems to be rushing; I do too. I have trained myself to work hard, work fast, eat fast, tick off the boxes in my to-do-list.

Eating and sleeping are mere necessary inconveniences for survival.

I am always in a hurry. But then I was reminded that it hasn’t always been this way. I read a book entitled: “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” authored by John Mark Comer; brought me back to my senses.

Let me share some portion with you:

”Consider the sundial a.k.a. the original Casio.

As far back as approximately 200 BC, people were complaining about what this “new” technology was doing to society. The Roman playwright Plautus turned anger into poetry:

The gods confound the man who first found out.

How to distinguish hours! Confound him, too,

Who in this place set up a sundial cut and hack my days so wretchedly.

Into small portions!

Fast-forward to the monks. In the sixth century, Saint Benedict organized the monastery around seven times of prayer each day. By the 12th century, the monks had invented the mechanical clock to rally the monastery to prayer.

But most historians point to 1370 as the turning point in the West’s relationship to time. That year the first public clock tower was erected in Cologne, Germany. Before that, time was natural. It was linked to the rotation of the earth on its axis and the four seasons. You went to bed with the moon and got up with the sun. Days were long and busy in summer, short and slow in winter. There was a rhythm to the day and even the year. Life was “dominated by agrarian rhythms. It was free of haste, careless of exactitude, unconcerned by productivity,” says the French medievalist Jacques Le Goff.

But the clock changed all that: it created artificial time – the slog of the nine-to-five all year long. We stopped listening to our bodies and started rising when our alarms droned their oppressive siren – not when our bodies were done resting. We became more efficient, yes, but also more machines, less human beings.

Listen to one historian’s summary of this crucial moment:

Here was man’s declaration of independence from the sun, a new proof of his mastery over himself and his surroundings. Only later would it be revealed that he had accomplished this mastery by putting himself under the dominion of a machine with imperious demands all its own.

When the sun set our rhythms of work and rest, it did so under the control of God; but the clock is under the control of the employer, a far more demanding master.

In 1879 you had Edison and the light bulb, which made it possible to stay up past sunset. Okay, brace yourself for this next stat: before Edison the average person slept eleven hours a night.”

And the author continues: “I used to read biographies of great men and women from history who got up to pray at four o’clock in the morning – Saint Teresa of Ávila, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon. I would think, Wow, they are way more serious about Jesus than I am. True, but then I realized that they went to bed at seven o’clock! After nine hours of sleep, what else was there to do?

In America, we’re down to about seven as the median number of hours of sleep per night. That’s two and a half hours less sleep than just a century ago.

Is it any wonder we’re exhausted all the time?”

And now add to our repertoire is zooming with people from a different time zone, a thousand tasks we need to do, and the load keeps on coming.

Perhaps the title of the book offers sane advice for type-A super-achievers like you and me. We need to ruthlessly eliminate hurry in our life if we want to stay healthy. Oh, I don’t know. I don’t even have the time to think about it because I was rushing to finish this piece for my column and my radio segment, and then there’s that unfinished book and the webinars...

(Attend and participate in the live webinar this Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Francis Kong will host, and educator and book author Dr. Ramesh Richard will speak on: “Life is Do-able:  Being Strong in Times of Difficulty.” Live on facebook.com/franciskong2)

1The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World. Copyright © 2019 by John Mark Comer.

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