It was after bedtime that Sasha and I sat down to read about ocean life, which is, according to his own classification, ‘his main focus.’ Bedtime strictness be gone, motherhood pays sweet dues to such clear and worthwhile endeavours. So we sat to read.
‘Mom, I will always remember you.’
What would you have said to that? Composure is not an attribute I possess. For a writer with no serious case of writer’s block I should have no excuse. Yet I said nothing but smiled. So will I. Both of you. The gift of open heart when you least expect it. Thoughts of years to come.
Then the thought struck like a most inelegant electric eel. Everything is becoming short-term nowadays. From cell phone contracts to how we think of our impact on the world around, we look at today, this month, this year, if that far. We’re getting used to thinking short-term, we’re being trained to do so.
The attention span of children is reduced by a few seconds with each generation (and what a big virtual chunk of brain power that is) and the objects and contracts we’re told we need to sign up for are measured not in their true value, but in what we have to pay every month and or in how we can make best use of them today.
We’re surrounding ourselves with trees (some of which fake and taking the place of real ones) and we fail to see the forest.
Many think they want to live forever but life is knitted with the thin fabric of something that’s meant to last today and tomorrow.
We think in return policies, exchange for new if something breaks, throw-away and replace with new model; we pay an acceptable-to-budget amount every month without looking at the big picture.
We buy toys for our children’s entertainment today without thinking about the impact of all the broken, thrown-away toys over the years. We feed them refined food they like today, questionable treats that make them grin today, without assessing the impact of the short-term joys on their health, on their world, on ours.
To say that long-term awareness has been short-circuited in favour of the short-term one might sound harsh and I am, yet again, the Grinch that steals today’s fun. But perhaps a refreshed view of the Grinch might save the original, and it may as well save me right now. Dr. Seuss’s wicked thoughtfulness sparkles through. The end of fun was in fact the beginning of real joy. Stripped of all that was short-term glitter, joy stayed put and it came from inside. An act of giving if you will.
Today’s short-term jolly adventures are dangerously plopping themselves in front of long-term thinking, shadowing judgment and making us sign up contracts with words too small and too many to read in one go. Someone must be watching over us rushed people, we assume. Life is happening fast, we are happening with it and the gulps of short-term jolliness make the ride more fun. So be it, where do I sign?
But is the ride more fun? Not quite.
It is refreshing to think that there is still time to think long-term. A rather un-capitalistic view of life, a return to ‘cradle to grave’ objects and concepts alike, perhaps revising investments to make them apply to human richness, in spirit and open-heart goodness rather than have them confined to the financial realm. No one gains money when people’s hearts and minds grow richer but that is the kind of richness that lasts, the one you don’t find in a bank account.
It is fitting of us to consider that while today only comes once and now is a chance we’ll never have again, the long-term concept is building itself out of every today we churn in our rushed existence. The one big problem is that we will not live forever and the generations to come will have a today made from that patched-up, somewhat crumbly long-term we’re building handicapped by our short-term blindness.
Whether Sasha becomes a marine biologist or not (his second choice is to become a carpenter, inspired by a kind, generous toy maker he’s met not long ago) it is not important. My peace of mind comes from knowing that we sat down long enough to read all that he wanted to (hopefully,) we saw enough ocean to understand its boundless wonder (hopefully) and we had enough challenging topics at the dinner table for both of them to understand that us humans honour ourselves and the gift of life by understanding roots and future (we have.) The roots are being handed to us and the future we create. A heck of a long-term responsibility if you ask me.