Finding Meaning

It is just me or do you, too, ever look back at how you spent a day and wish you could have done more with it? Today was not one of those days, but I’ve have a few lately that, if I could tweak them a little, I would. I’m not talking about the days when bizarre or unexpected stuff happens that messes up what you had planned to accomplish. What I’m talking about is those instances when you chose to do a task that, even in the short run, didn’t have that high of a value to you.

For example, a few days ago I opted to sync my Google contacts list with my Apple AddressBook. This wasn’t hard, but it took about an hour by the time I sorted through stuff and shifted files around. This is a chore that I know will make me happy in the very short run. I’ll be able to say, for about 24 hours, that I have no duplicates in my contacts list, that the information is accurate and well organized. In just over a week, however, discrepancies work their way back in, there are two John Smiths, etc. So, I look back at that hour I spent and wonder why I bothered. Did I spend my time wisely?

Multiply that experience by several dozen and you get what I and most people in the digital age deal with on a monthly basis. I don’t have to look hard to find some transient discrepancy within my own little world that could use sprucing up. But why? What is the cost? And what is the alternative?

Why re-sort my storage shed instead of trying to write a book? Why search for duplicate songs in my iTunes instead of learning how to better invest my savings? There are a dozen trade-offs that I face everyday, and many times I make productive decisions, but there is also a lot of waste. The waste is getting to me because there are an increasing number of distractions (for whatever reason).

A certain order is necessary, and a variable amount of time and effort is required to maintain that order. But I’ve always believed in two things:

  1. Little things done right can change big wrong things; and
  2. Never let the big picture fall (too far) out of focus.

I propose that instead of doing something mindless and long-run-irrelevant, find meaning in something – even the little things. I’ll do the same, and the collective improvement will leave us both feeling better about our days past and our days to come.

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