Conscious Living

Photo: Conscious Lifestyle Magazine

Photo: Conscious Lifestyle Magazine

Gen-Something

I was born in 1976. My generation was/is unique in that we grew up living in a world where personal computers were just starting to become available to the everyday pedestrian. We also remember a world before the internet. (Yes, there was a time where the internet was non-existent).

I remember my first computer class. It was on a bus that had been modified into a classroom lined with Apple IIE's. This "Computer Bus" was my first jaunt into the world of personal computing and I was immediately hooked. There at my fingertips was a whole new world comprised of bytes and bits waiting for me to explore.

The year that I graduated high school I got my first email account. Again— hooked. No more envelopes. No more ink. No more waiting.

Nothing satisfied quite like the sound of the modem on my 25-pound computer tower dialing up (and into) this new thing called "The Internet" where one could read books, send messages, play games, and even see pictures.

I was witnessing history in the making. The world would never be the same again. And that was just fine with me.

Faster

If you've ever watched the shows "Halt and Catch Fire" or "Silicon Valley" (great shows by the way) they both unfold out of a plot line where tech-folks are striving to make their particular strain of tech faster than their competitors.

And this, it seems, has become the standard of success or failure, not only in personal computing but in everything else in the world. The first thing we often ask about a thing when considering it is, "How fast can it do such and such a thing for me?"

And I think "faster" is good.

Convenience is a wonderful thing.

Maybe you disagree, but imagine that you've just been wheeled into a hospital, bleeding out internally from a car accident. You have (only) minutes to live. Would you prefer to be under the knife without the aid of computers, digital databases, and/or various other devices that aid the surgeon and hospital staff in doing their jobs more quickly?

I didn’t think so.

Yep. You’re in it.

All that to say, I believe "faster" is just the nature of things. One could even make the argument that this has been the driving force of our species for ages— from the building of the pyramids— to the aqueducts of Rome— to the assembly lines of mass production of various consumer goods. It just is what it is, and if you don't play along, well, you're done playing.

The Abbess Matrona, speaking of the solitary life, wrote in the 15th century,

It is better to have the many about thee, and to live the solitary life in thy will, than to be alone, and the desire of thy mind be with the crowd.
— Matrona of Chios

Of course, she's not talking about faster tech here, but she is putting forth a proposition about how we might live in a busy world fueled by chasing and speed without losing ourselves in it.

"Faster" is the norm, yes (and if history teaches us anything, it probably always will be). But we don't have to let things like speed and convenience dictate our every decision. The key is to be "aware" of what's going on within us in our decision making— conscious of the truth that there is always a choice between desire and gratification.

And if I've learned anything in my life, this is one thing I've learned from bitter experience— that there's nothing wrong with "faster" provided that I am "conscious" in the midst of it. Most (not all, but most) things in my life that I regret, have caused me pain, and/or have left me feeling empty are things that resulted from my unwillingness to be aware of my thoughts and feelings in that gap between stimulus and response.

Perhaps this is what Jesus was trying to get across when he prayed,

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from evil.
— Jesus (The Gospel of John)

Wherever you are in your life today, go as fast as you want, but don't forget to be conscious and aware in the process. If you are, you may find yourself, at times, delaying gratification because you are able to see that the long-term results aren't so gratifying.

Weigh all things. If even for a moment. And in this way you will find yourself living a conscious life rather than an unconscious one.


 
Ryan Phipps is the Senior Minister at Church In Bethesda.  Raised in the church, becoming a pastor was the one thing Ryan vowed he would never do. After spending many years away from faith, he found that for all of its flaws, the church can still occupy a unique place of good in the world if it is willing to evolve with reason and empathy.  Ryan has a special place in his heart for those who have been damaged or disillusioned by the church, and longs to lead those within it toward a more just and generous expression of itself.  Ryan is an  INTJ  on the MBTI and a  5w4  on the Enneagram.

Ryan Phipps is the Senior Minister at Church In Bethesda.

Raised in the church, becoming a pastor was the one thing Ryan vowed he would never do. After spending many years away from faith, he found that for all of its flaws, the church can still occupy a unique place of good in the world if it is willing to evolve with reason and empathy.

Ryan has a special place in his heart for those who have been damaged or disillusioned by the church, and longs to lead those within it toward a more just and generous expression of itself.

Ryan is an INTJ on the MBTI and a 5w4 on the Enneagram.

Ryan Phipps