“The whole fall, back-to-school just hit me like a truck.” That’s the way a mother described the first days of September as we talked last night. Me too.
It all comes on so fast. Summer seems to start gradually, as things wind slowly down. But it always ends with a bang. A gun goes off. September’s starting gun. Then it all comes at us.
Some time ago a blogging friend of mine wrote about that famous “I love Lucy” episode where Lucy and Ethel go to work in a chocolate factory. The mere mention of that scene made me chuckle. The little candies slide by on the conveyor belt, and Lucy and Ethel are supposed to wrap them. If even one slips by, declares the scary supervisor, they’re fired!
At first of course, they’re fine. Then gradually the belt speeds up. They speed up. The wrapping becomes frenetic, sloppy. Still, they can’t keep up. They start grabbing the chocolates and stuffing them in their mouths to hide them.
That’s pretty much a picture of contemporary life—every day. The belt speeds up just a little bit every year, and we’re expected to keep up. In a way, we want it that way. We want to live “exciting” lives with scores and hundreds of options and choices. We seek to live in “exciting” places where “so much is going on.” When we compare lives at parties, the people with the most insane schedule are the clear “winners.” We don’t want to be losers.
For people who value unlimited choice and maximum consumption, the irony is, we are no longer the choosers. The so-called good life begins to dictate to us, just as the conveyor belt does to Lucy and Ethel. This is reality, it says, deal. First you choose a lifestyle, then it chooses you—and will not let go.
Faith and spirituality offer two important and necessary responses to those who are frantically stuffing chocolates in their mouths as the juggernaut of life overruns them. The first is to stand with them, help them wrap some candy if we can, and support them in their exhaustion. At times we all need that. I do.
The second response is a little trickier. It is to stand with them, and say, Maybe it’s ok to just let some of these chocolates roll by. I know it seems like the world will collapse, but it won’t. You know, you don’t have to take everything that comes down that conveyor belt. You really don’t.
P.S. If you haven’t seen it in a while. Here’s that scene.