I stumbled upon a remarkable quotation from George Keenan this weekend in reading Fareed Zakarai's review of The Keenan Diaries
I cannot help but regret that I did not live 50 or 100 years sooner...life is too full in these times to be comprehensible. We know too many cities to be able to grow into any of them, . . . too many friends to have any real friendships, too many books to know any of them well, and the quality of our impressions gives way to the quantity, so that life begins to seem like a movie, with hundreds of kaleidoscopic scenes flashing on and off our field of perception, gone before we have time to consider them.
Zakaria notes that: "It’s a vivid expression of a deep, instinctual conservatism, especially when you consider that it was written in December 1927."
Keenan's lament struck a resonant chord within me. I catch myself sometimes reminiscing about typing correspondence on my old typewriter when being in touch with someone required time for reflection and focused attention. Those days seem to be long gone, replaced by the benefits of instant communication, easy travel, and networks of relationships that span the globe. Such an abundance of resources at our disposal, but I often feel that I am not able to tend to these relationships and opportunities with the same care I could in the past.
I am torn between my unbridled enthusiasm for how much more is possible in our interconnected world and a sense of loss for the deeper connectendess and richer insights afforded by the time when days were less full; when the lack of technology required more time to reflect more deeply on all that we do: learning, creating, and investing in friendships and community.
I don't share Keenan's desire to be born in an earlier time, but embrace the challenge to not allow our hyper-connected world to make life so full it becomes incomprehensible.