Friday, February 15, 2013

Searching for Meaning

Those addicted to 'fun'  would do well to uncover the meaning of this addiction, writes a  Salesian sister, with a background in media studies, in the Kyeongyang Magazine. Boredom, she says, may be causing the addiction. Though in the past boredom was a catalyst for change, today many find it difficult to accept, a thing to avoid at all costs.

We have heard the saying: "When you play you  play, when you work you work."  Today we often want our work to be pleasurable, and don't mind if our leisure time is taken up by intense study or stressful activities. When we are tired we flick on the TV or engage in conversation or do something, anything, as long as it keeps us from feeling bored. But all this does, she says, is add to our mental turmoil. There's no avoiding 'doing,' she admits, but we must also understand, she emphasizes, that 'not-doing' is something positive and creative.

She reflects on the times in the subway when just sitting becomes awkward and we take out our smart phones and begin toying with them. Conversation can start up with someone sitting beside us, but when a call comes during the conversation, we most likely will take the opportunity to go back to our smartphone.

She asks if we have ever for even an hour taken time to do nothing but be with ourselves in silence.  A time when we can give our thinking a rest, letting our thoughts ripen and the stress and frustrations of the day pass from mind--a time to get to know ourselves.

In the digital society we live in, the more dependent we become on the digital resources now available, and the more concerned with things outside of ourselves, the more impoverished  our internal life becomes. Reading becomes unbearable, and deep reflection nearly impossible; we forget the meaning of life and its values. We end up, sister says, thinking with our feelings and judging with our emotions.

We are living in a society where fun is often the goal of every pursuit. Our emotions are given priority, and the effort to delve deeply into our experiences is missing. In Korea we are all familiar with the Gangnam Style, a term describing both the phenomenally successful music video and the lifestyle "where everything is cool." Though many have been critical of this recent cultural craze that has spread throughout the world, there's no denying that many have embraced its lavish, carefree lifestyle, if only in spirit. 

The video is not the sole possession of those who made it, she reminds us, but now belongs to anyone who has seen it and is moved by what they see; they are the owners as well. The sister wants us to realize that besides those who found the text 'fun,' thrilled by what they saw and heard, many others had even more fun by examining the meaning of  this 'fun' event.

More than  being overcome with the 'fun' of the moment is to examine what is seen for meaning. It is this meaning that will  add a great deal to the 'fun' that we have in life.According to Ecclesiastes 2:10: "All that I undertook I enjoyed, and that was my reward for my work." Sister hopes that we will find the same joy in everything we do in life. It all starts, she says, not with those who are content to have fun without looking for its meaning, but with those who search for meaning, and see with the eyes of Christ.