If, while driving Broadway in Pittsburg, you should glance over to the southwest corner at Third Street, you will see a large sign that proclaims FAST. CHEAP. EASY. It’s for Two Brothers Printing; their catchy slogan to entice patrons.
A good catchphrase for things like printing, oil changes, and the like … but not so much for things like doing brain surgery and attaching wings to commercial jets, for which most all of us, even though we might not like it, would prefer the slogan SLOW. EXPENSIVE. HARD. as it involves keeping us alive.
Trouble is that here in the good ole U.S. of A. we continue to move toward using the ‘fast, cheap and easy’ motto for just about everything. Indeed, right along with ‘the pursuit of happiness’ as our birthright.
Even though we know, at our core, that life is difficult. Very difficult.
So why do we persist in this fantasy? Advertising for one thing. Advertising that tells us we are special. I’m sure that you, dear reader, like me, regularly receive YOU HAVE ALREADY BEEN APPROVED notices in email messages and land mail envelopes and fliers for everything from credit cards to luxury vacations to life insurance.
Of course the email or envelope is always labeled TIME SENSITIVE, which is the marketers way of saying you’ve only been approved for a certain amount of time so you’d better act now or you’ll end up feeling bad about yourself.
What really happens is that a couple of weeks after you toss it in the recycling basket you get another envelope from the same company that’s stamped ACT NOW FOR YOUR SPECIAL ONE TIME RATE, followed by, in another month or so, LAST CHANCE.
If you do nothing, the cycle will start all over again at some point with the YOU HAVE ALREADY BEEN APPROVED message.
I find it interesting that the word approved is used so often in these promotions, rather than words like accepted or validated or confirmed. Maybe it’s because we’re all so insecure that we need approval at every turn?
Of course another reason (maybe the biggest reason) we are called to deny that life is difficult is the click and swipe instant gratification we get from using our mobile phones, computers and TVs.
I can call my sister in Kansas City, look up the storyline of Homer’s ‘Ulysses,’ and tune to any one of 300 T.V. stations all at the same time. And never have to get up from my living room platform rocker.
As Kim Colgrove pointed out in her ‘Learn To Pause’ mindfulness and meditation training workshops at Memorial Auditorium a couple of weeks back, all this constant stimulation tends to increase our overall anxiety and stress and make it increasingly difficult to relax.
The answer? Learn to push the pause button. Take a break from the phone, computer and TV. Breathe deeply and sit quietly in mindful meditation, focusing on a sound, a person, a place or concept that brings us peace. In my case it’s grandma’s living room or grandpa’s pickup truck.
Speaking of grandparents, Colgrove noted that hers did not rush off to another activity when meals were finished. They would take a little time to just sit. Maybe visit a little about their day or reflect on the local news.
Getting back to the term approval, consider if you will, each transaction we make with our debit cards. We accept or reject the final total, get an offer to get a little cash back, type in our magic pin number, and up pops the message, “APPROVED!”
One day last week I said out loud to the Ron’s Supermarket cashier, as I pulled my card from the reader, “Thanks. I needed that.”
“I’ve been feeling a little depressed and insecure lately,” I told him. “I just got approved on the little screen. Feels good.”
He gave me a quizzical look and a half smile. Then the young woman who’d bagged my groceries and placed them in my cart asked, “Would you like some help out?”
“No thanks,” I replied. “But a little encouragement would be nice.”
She smiled knowingly, nodded and said, “I’m sure you can make it to your car, sir. Just take it slow.”
— J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and celebrant. He also operates Knoll Training, Consulting & Training in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 620-231-0499, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 401 W. Euclid, Pittsburg, KS 66762