Passing Hours in the Age of Automation

Passing the Hours in the Age of Automation

Bill Gates said something astonishing in January. Many have commented on it and I’m not interested (right now) in giving an opinion about what he said. Just the fact that he SAID it has given me pause.

Are you Rusty?

Bill Gates suggested that robots be taxed at the rate human workers are taxed, because so many of them are doing human work instead of humans.

If robots are answering phones, driving, delivering parcels, and taking orders, manufacturing items, stocking warehouses, writing contracts, managing banking … if you didn’t have to work, what would you do with your time?

We humans today have more disposable time than any time in history, and I am not encouraged by how we seem to be choosing to spend it. TV. YouTube cat videos. Pornography online has soared. So have video games. We seem to be just checking out as a society.

What if we did have all that free time and could just make stuff? Hone a craft? Learn to play an instrument? Decorate cakes? My goodness, what a gift that time could be!

What would you teach someone to do? What would you like to learn? The mind boggles. I will never have enough time to learn everything I want to learn how to do, and do well. I will never read everything I want to read. I never did learn to play a banjo (maybe that’s a good thing). I still don’t know how to crochet.

Can you even imagine what we could make if everyone had the time and access to do what moved them? People are so very clever. Let’s start planning…

Just Say “Yes”

Just Say Yes

Sketchbook cover, screenprinted, stamped, sewn and quilted
Sketchbook cover, screenprinted, stamped, sewn and quilted

In July I had a rather intimate conversation with a new acquaintance, a relative stranger, but someone whose work and work ethic I had witnessed and admired greatly from close quarters. I admitted that I had been asking the Universe for a feeling of safety, security, and that after talking with her for those two weeks I had begun to think that perhaps I should be asking for courage instead.

Well, be careful what you ask for.

Some time ago, I read somewhere about a practice Thich Nhat Hanh had when working with children. He was teaching his walking meditation but with children he encouraged them to say “Yes!” with every step. Every step. That’s a lot of “yes’s”, ya’ll. Since I’m such a baby with so many of these advanced methodologies, I thought maybe I’d start with the kids’ exercises.

What I found, to my surprise, was that after 3 or 4 minutes of a “yes” with every step, my mood would brighten, my step would lighten, and each “yes” would be more exuberant that the last, so that by the end of the exercise it was all I could do to contain myself to acceptable levels given the density of my household. I also found that “yes” came out of my mouth more readily than “no” when opportunities were made available, and as a result of that I have made some incredible new friends, been some incredible new places, and started some incredible new paths that I am so excited about that I almost leap out of bed every morning.

Dream Streams journal cover
Dream Streams journal cover

But perhaps the most exciting result of this change of attitude is to see it reflected in my recent work. I can see joy again. Playfulness, which I knew had to still be lurking somewhere. Humor. A little bit of rebellion, but hey, I can’t expect to change overnight. I’ve also been asked to participate in a few things that make me feel excited, and even to give a little talk about our choices in what we buy, wear, use, and gift to others, subjects very near and dear to my heart. Mindfulness in all things.

Try it for yourself. Brace yourself for the energy that comes. And then tell us about it! What puts a spring in your step these days?