As the line from Dead Poets Society says, Cape Diem. It’s great advice, but it seems modern western society is hell-bent on giving us as little opportunity to Seize The Day as possible. We are no longer allowed to live in the present and we’re always getting catapulted towards the future at what seems like an ever-increasing rate. Life used to be seasonal, and I suppose in some ways it still is, it’s just the seasons that are foisted on us are not the ones that are going on outside the window. Christmas is no longer something that happens towards the end of December, instead it starts in before Hallowe’en (and sometimes even before the end of September). Kids are no sooner off on their summer holidays than they’re bombarded with messages reminding them they need to prepare for going back to school. Easter eggs seem to appear before the last of the browning carcasses of abandoned Christmas trees disappear from the streets.
We now live in a world where you can’t buy a winter jacket in February because the shops are already busy pushing their spring lines. Where the August issue of magazines commonly appear in July (and sometimes even the end of June!). Where you’re barely back from one summer holiday before you’re told you need to start planning for the next. And it’s not just the shops that are getting in on the act, so are politicians, corporations and journalists. It used to be that the news would tell us what happened. Now many news items are about what’s going to happen. I mean how often do you hear a news item start with something like ‘It will be announced today…’ or ‘In a speech today, the Prime Minister will say…’.
I, for one, am getting fed up with this. I want to be able to live in the moment, to enjoy the now without being permanently told that I should be thinking and planning for the next big thing. If I were running the country, the biggest change I’d make would be to introduce a law to Keep Britain Current. Spring lines couldn’t be put out in shops before it’s actually spring. Christmas would be banned before December. The news would have to report what’s happened and not what’s going to happen.
I know that some will accuse me of being a kill-joy (and even a bit of a Scrooge because I mentioned Christmas in all of this), but I’m not. I do enjoy Christmas, but only for a few weeks of the year. It’s currently November and I’m already all Christmassed out. By the time December 25th finally rolls around, I’ll be so fed up with it all that I’ll no longer be in any state to appreciate it.
There is a more serious side to this. The way our lives are permanently being speeded up decreases our happiness and increases our stress levels. We don’t get to sit back, relax and enjoy life any more, and I suspect it gives us a general feeling of discontentment. Maybe we all need to learn to step outside of modern life from time to time and just live for the moment. Not forever, but just long enough to appreciate the present while it’s still here.
From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in the UK. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.