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LIVING in the moment seems to be one of the catchphrases of our times. We all need to live more in the moment, apparently; not spending too much time thinking about what could have been and what might be.Now, at my age I see this as good advice. Not much point in tormenting myself now over all the things I could have done or about spending sleepless nights worrying about what might be.
But for our children, I think living too much for today is a bit of a modern-day trap.
These days everything seems to be about the now. In our digital, interconnected world so much seems to be instantaneous. There is endless entertainment and distraction. There are hundreds of channels to choose from at the touch of a button. We have vast information at our fingertips. Often we don’t need to learn something because there’s Google; nor develop a skill because “there’s an app for that”. We are drowning in games. Yet most of those games have no real consequences. Even if you make a mistake and “die” there’s always another chance.
None of this seems to encourage some of the old virtues of commitment, practice, reflecting on the past and investing for the future.
In truth, there is always benefit in looking beyond the immediate, in learning from our past mistakes and working towards a better future with prudent planning and by doing the hard yards now.
I learnt the hard way through trial and error that leaving things to the last minute, not planning ahead with my school work or university studies had serious consequences.
For example, preparing and writing a university essay required trips to the library, finding of a long list of books and taking time to assimilate things and be able to write about them. Research was something you couldn’t do at the last minute. But these days everything is online. Google now brings vast quantities of information in an instant, but knowledge and understanding doesn’t necessarily follow without effort.
I’m revisiting these issues as my kids move through their school studies. Fortunately, both have learned a lot about preparation, persistence and commitment from their sport. There’s no app for much of what they do and that’s delivered benefits in their commitment to their studies.
However, at the same time, distraction and easy answers are ever present. It takes a constant effort to resist the temptations of instant gratification and easy solutions to problems.
Sometimes, I’m happy to see the kids make mistakes and pay a penalty in one way or another, than let them solve problems easily and instantly with technological solutions. Something might go wrong from time to time, but they will have learnt a lot along the way, certainly more than not having done it in the first place. I’ve certainly learnt from a few of my mistakes and nothing beats working hard for future success.
We might be living in an age of technological instant rewards, but some older truths endure.