One of the reasons I write this blog once a week is it simply slows me down.
Blogging changes my rhythm. It forces me to think new and larger thoughts in the midst of the quotidian. It removes me from the ceaseless concatenation of crisis management that is the lot of most of us small businessmen. It allows me to contemplate the forest as well as the trees, the ultimate as well as the penultimate.
The danger of all this busyness is that I become a human “doing” instead of a human “being.”
I keep a file of clipped articles which look interesting but I put off for later reading. One yellowing article from the July 24, 2011 NY Times Business Section (P. 8 ) caught my eye this week. It’s by Tony Schwartz. Tony feels we need to learn to manage our energy differently, not just our time. He reports that the pressure to stay forever connected and on top of things has taken a toll on the time we once instinctively devoted to renewing and recharging. He states:
“When fatigue sets in over the course of a day, we all increasingly and unconsciously rely on emergency sources of energy: adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol. In this aroused fight-or-flight state, our prefrontal cortex, which helps us think reflectively and creatively, begins to shut down. We become more reactive, reflexive and impulsive.”
(For me, the witching hour is 4:00 PM. On many days I become useless and even dangerous at that hour—at my worst a snarling, ill-tempered fool. I’ve learned to avoid making decisions or having important calls any time between 3:30 and 4:30. I’ve discovered I say lots of stupid things around that time—things that have unnecessarily damaged my business.)
Schwartz points to a recent study of airline pilots. The study discovered that when pilots get a nap of just 30 minutes in long-haul flights, they experience a 16% increase in their reaction time, in contrast to a 34% decrease in reaction time among non-napping pilots over the course of a flight.
One reason to be cautionary about our miraculous and explosive internet technology is that it simply leaves us no time to think where it’s ultimately taking us and at what cost. We may not know where we’re going, but we’re sure getting there faster and faster. (Lord, please stop me before I devolve into another Luddite screed.)
French philosopher Gaston Bachelard says in the Poetics of Reverie, “Reverie is not a mind vacuum. It is rather the gift of an hour which knows the plenitude of the soul.” Thank you, Gaston.