Relaxing to the End?

One of my pet peeves in China is the lack of rush in rush hour. The biggest problem is the widespread use of electronic gadgets. People are texting, watching movies, of playing games on their devices as they move through the subway or stand on the escalators instead of doing anything close to the healthy rush that I would impose on the world if I reigned. The left side of escalators are supposed to be for movers: “stand right, walk left” is the rule, but gadget gawkers often block the moving lane for everybody below as they stare cluelessly their toy/ultimate productivity device. at least for us long-legged foreigners who like to walk fast through the streets and prefer to keep climbing on escalators.

Even when people are climbing up the escalator, I’ve noticed something strange: there is an almost universal tendency for people to stop moving as they near the top. It’s like once the next level is in sight, their legs stop and they relax for the last part of their journey. Why stop then? It should be the easiest part of the climb, the one with the most gain per calorie expended, but they just stop moving. During crowded times, this causes a chain reaction, because the person behind them now has to stop even earlier than they normally would, and so on down the chain, and sometimes a long escalator out of a subway loaded with would-be climbers on the left stops moving completely because one person stopped climbing shortly before the end. The world would be a more productive place if we’d all just follow one simple principle: “Everybody get out of my way.” Wait, no, I meant this: “Keep moving. Endure to the end.” There, that sounds better.

Why do people relax before they reach their goal? Endure to the end, keep running the race, keep moving forward: these are basic concepts from the Gospel and sound principles for life in general. Sadly, I see some people who have lived faithfully for years feel like they can take a detour from the Gospel later in life and who abandon the path of service, charity, and building the Kingdom of God, instead choosing to relax or perhaps just stare at some productivity enhancing device. Don’t lose your grip with the peak just around the corner. Don’t lie down on the track and nap just yards from the finish line. Stay awake while driving. Floss daily. It all sounds so easy, but we too often slow down, let go, slip, sleep, whatever, before it’s time to relax. Press on!

There’s a saying from Confucius on this point: “Though in making a mound I should stop when one basketful of earth would complete it, the fact remains that I have stopped. On the other hand, if in leveling land I advance my work by one basketful at a time, the fact remains that I am advancing.” May we all keep advancing, and go easy on the gadgets.

Author: Jeff Lindsay

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