Sunday, May 8, 2011

Waste

"Youth is wasted on the young." ~George Bernard Shaw

Yesterday I was thinking about how things become more precious as they become scarce. I was thinking about how in the nineties bandwidth was scarce and computer memory was expensive so people wrote programming that took very little hard drive space and sent emails that used as little bandwidth as possible. Nowadays computer programs are enormous because our hard drives contain gigabytes of space, not megabytes. (My first Mac was a 512Ke and you could not save anything to the hard drive at all.)

This notion of waste carries over to many things in life. Because America has such a vast expanse of land, our mining companies and industries could sprawl wherever they wanted, and leave a mess behind because they assumed there was always more land than we needed. Our expansive attitude toward the land was directly related to its massive availability.

Time is another one of those things that is deceptive. We value it most when we have the least of it available. When we're overwhelmed with responsibilities that squeeze out our "free time" we crave those precious moments we have for collecting ourselves, for recharging our batteries, getting re-centered.

Another facet of time is that when young we believe we have all the time in the world. The reality is that life is finite. We have one life only and how we use it reveals our valuation of it.

Friends are another thing we fail to value when they are abundant. When friends are scarce, how precious they are. But guess what? They were valuable before, too. We often failed to appreciate them as we ought to have.

Money... We often hear or read about people unaccustomed to having money who gain a windfall and don't know how to handle it. It's not uncommon for people who come by wealth unexpectedly and without effort to dismiss their largesse with the adage, "easy come, easy go." Many who went through the Great Depression knew well the hardships imposed by having little money, and the discipline it required of them. For most of us, money doesn't grow on trees. Those who have earned it value it all the more.

Life is another thing we find more valuable when we begin to comprehend our mortality. Most of us as kids took it for granted. Live and let live was our motto. If we were healthy we were expansive. Life had endless horizons and we gave no thought whatsoever to ever reaching an endpoint. Our whole way of looking at things was distorted, as were our decisions based on this distortion. We failed to appreciate the preciousness of a day, a month, a year, or many experiences which were all piled on one another as we raced along, oblivious. If we're lucky, something happens to awaken in us an appreciation for this gift.

Today is another day. I hope you're making the most of it, appreciating it... Wake up, take a deep breath and smell the roses.

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