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We live in a time where nearly everything around us is built to be consumed, used, or enjoyed at our earliest convenience. We don’t have to go to a restaurant to pick up food, we don’t have to learn the language of a land to experience it, and we don’t have to talk to someone—or even meet them, really—to decide whether they are “worthy” of our time. We can simply follow or unfollow, swipe left or swipe right, use google translate, or order in.
There is no doubt that we are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to live in an age where technology has made the world and its possibilities seem endless and ever-growing. Perhaps those that came before us could only dream of connecting with people across the world with the touch of a button. With that convenience, though, there’s a question that immediately pops into my head: Could the growing expectation of seamless, quick experiences harm us down the line?
My friends and I look back at times when we had to print out boarding passes or flip our phones open to answer them, and we laugh. “How did we live through that with what we have now?” Ironically, my parents say the same thing about how they used to live, as do their parents, and so on.
I’d argue we “survived” these times simply because that’s all we had, so we reached for acceptance. It was hard to build an expectation about how things “should be” if they didn’t exist yet. Can we really know what we’re missing if we haven’t experienced it?
As I type these words, I’m on a plane from Europe to New York City. I hold traveling close to my heart for many reasons, and I believe going to foreign places allows you to see ways of living that are different from your own experience. Through the exposure of another culture, we gain the ability to cultivate compassion for others and reflect on our parallel and contrasting morals. This trip has allowed me to revisit how my time is spent. It has made me wonder why I’m always in such a rush, and what I’m losing when I opt-out for convenience.
The most relaxing, enriching experiences of this trip were those that were not rushed. They were even inconvenient, ironically. When I took my time to pause, digest, be patient, and reflect, the world spoke to me from where I stood. I didn’t need to be anywhere faster, make things easier, or change anything, really. I was just being. The value placed on simple living and acknowledging that precious traditions, foods, and conversations cannot (and should not be) rushed is something that the concept of, “convenience is better” completely dilutes. During these experiences, time seemed to be valued for what it was, and there wasn’t such a heavy emphasis on spending it wisely.
As a result of having an expectation of how things “should be”, I have shown little patience for how things actually are. There is no compassion for the reality that the most beautiful things are often worth taking slow or waiting for. With that waiting comes the possibility of failure, of trying again, or of putting a lot of time towards something. But honestly…what’s so wrong with that? When I reflect on the most valuable things in my life—my meditation practice, my relationships with others, my health, and my passions—they’re all things that cannot be rushed or manipulated to be digested at my earliest convenience.
In this moment, I urge you to lean into the time and tools you have in front of you now rather than seeking the quickest, least painful solution. I urge you to walk through your life with a sense of ease and spaciousness, rather than aggression. With space, we gift ourselves the ability to see beyond walls built through ignorance, insecurity, and fear. With space, we can breathe, and we can see what we really need. It may be inconvenient, but it may also be worth it.