Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Trivia and Impact

I realized yesterday how much of our lives is spent on trivia which has no impact on either eternity or the greater good of anyone.

I realized it yesterday as I reorganized over 50 sets of records, preparing them for an audit which will perhaps look at 1/10th of them for a product that probably won't matter 10 years from now; I realized it as I spoke to Uisdean Ruadh about his new job and his specialization in hardware parts that you wouldn't even remember were in a home; I realized it as I overlooked Am Bhan Bhothemeanach as she made minor adjustments to marketing materials that will probably get glanced and and recycled more than they are read.

As we have continued to reach new heights in our 21st Century technological civilization, it has imposed on us a requirement: that as there are more moving parts to do more things, we need to have more people skillful in the subcategories of each of those moving parts to support them. As a result, we become more specialized and skillful at one part or subpart of an industry or profession, which can equal a greater ability to succeed in that profession - but if that profession goes away, more often than not nowhere else.

But this specialization also creates a second issue, perhaps the more damning one for me personally: we become more and more focused upon less and less, until we are experts in that which truly has no significance except what we infuse into it via the amount of time we spend on it.

Think on it: in your work circles, how much conversation, meetings and discussions have you had on a project that eventually died? Do you remember, as the notice comes out about that project, all the paper and effort that was poured into it, the late nights and hurried meals and time away from family and friends to make it important? Have you ever experienced the realization that something was indicated as terribly important was, by the standards of all that truly matters, worthless?

Interestingly for most of us, it is only in those "non-work" activities - be they hobbies, family time or friend time - that we begin to break away from the high degree of specialization and begin to touch on the matters that have more significance, that may have impact beyond ourselves both here on earth and in eternity. Perhaps it is because they are more broad in nature, perhaps it is because they by what they are enable us to get beyond the circle of "me" - but in gardening or changing a rabbit box or doing something with my children, I touch on things that are part of a larger picture, have greater impact, and (perhaps) can change the lives of others.

My question: Why have we allowed ourselves to be sold this concept, this inverse proposal that the trivial is important and the broad and impactful is something to be wedged into our free time? And if this is true, what do we - what do I -do about it?

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