Life is so full nowadays that we rarely get a chance to take a break from its momentum.
For many the day begins with a sleepy arm outstretched whilst a hand searches for a smooth rectangular object. A button is pressed and a screen lights up. Emails are checked for important work updates that just cannot wait. Twitter is scrolled to get up to the second info on all that’s right or wrong in the world. Facebook is consulted for the important updates on who did what with who when and where.
Then it’s time to get up and start the day.
The family breakfast is consumed with breakfast tv feeding the mind with as much benefit as the rushed breakfast cereal that is hoovered up has for the body. There is very little chance for a family conversation as all statuses must be updated and more communication takes place on the phone screen than across the table.
Everyone then rushes out the door into the cars as all set off for the day ahead in an already agitated state as that link to a video on Facebook took over 6 minutes and was too good to press pause and now everyone is running late.
Plenty of economic and violent ‘bad’ news on the car radio sets the tone for the day ahead as kids get dropped off in school and parents head off to work. Traffic delays cause blood pressure to rise and heart rates to hit levels that would need a 20 minute warm up on the bike to achieve.
Sitting down at the desk emails are once again checked and at least once per hour a sneaky peek at Facebook ends up lasting over 5 or 10 minutes.
There is so much work to be done that lunch must be taken at the desk but at least twitter and Facebook can now be open without the risk of the boss raising an eyebrow as he walks past.
Funnily enough over 30 mins is spent looking up these networks, time which could have afforded a break from the office, but sure it makes you look more dedicated to stay sitting at the desk.
5pm eventually ticks forward on the big white clock and the mass exodus begins. Everyone is in an enormous hurry to get home as if their houses are on fire.
Drive time radio in the car gives the latest stats that we should all be worried about as the slow moving traffic causes yet another build up of frustration that can only be dissipated by reaching for a packet of crisps and a can of coke.
The family know that the evening meal is ready when they hear the familiar ping from the microwave and then comes a balancing act that would be at home in the circus, as plates, glasses of coke, remote controls, phones, laptops and iPads are all precariously balanced on knees and arms of couches while the latest soap opera drama unfolds on the tv. Forks (knives are too much trouble) in one hand compete with phones in the other for supremacy with more than one person being known to have dipped their iphone5 into a Findus shepherds pie in a moment of distraction.
Bedtime comes but it is followed by an hour or two of surfing before sleep finally arrives and the whole routine can begin again.
All of the above may seem a little extreme but within lies a major contributing force for the enormous numbers that can now be seen jogging down every town by-pass in their hi-viz vests and the preponderance of well stretched cycling outfits that pass them by in bunches.
On a bike or when out running there is no Facebook or twitter (until you get home and tell all your friends how much you’ve done). Emails cannot be checked and many phones are even put on silent so calls cannot be answered. They cannot be left at home of course or how would Strava and runkeeper work. Most people with headphones are listening to music and not the ‘bad’ news. People training together actually have a chat and they feel good about the world.
Many who never before took part in any sport are now out there on the roads. The reason given is usually that they want to ‘get fit’ but I often wonder if somewhere deep down it’s the great escape from the full on connected intensity of everyday modern life that keeps them at it.
Some wise old Zen bloke once said ‘When you eat, eat. When you walk, walk’. That was back in the days well before iPhones and laptops but it still makes sense today, maybe even moreso !