Tuesday, February 14, 2012
In one of his signature "Twilight Zone" episodes, writer Rod Serling gave us a glimpse of Willoughby, a small Ohio town where a man could slow down and "live life its full measure". In the story, Dan Daly plays Gart Williams, a harried advertising executive who struggles daily with the battles of the cutthroat Madison Avenue ad business, but all the while longing for a Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn existence.
I believe we are all Gart Williams. We all want the same things… love, peace, security, a family, Sunday Frisbee tournaments with the kids at the park or the beach. But we don't do that, do we?
Instead, we join the vast buffalo herd and stampede ahead, never really sure where we're going or when we're going to get there. And never being really sure just where "There" is.
It’s a uniquely American phenomenon, this herd behavior. And in many cases, maybe we’re not buffaloes. Perhaps lemmings would be a better comparison. After all, aren’t they the ones who are notorious for running off cliffs? I’ve been to Scotland, England, Thailand, Mexico, and my favorite place, my Willoughby, is the little village of Strahan on the west coast of Tasmania in Australia. The people there seem to have it figured out. They work, of course. But they work to live. Nobody lives to work. And everyday they go about their business, the business of living. We Americans, we can-do types, scoff at the Aussies and the Europeans because they really don’t “have any ambition”. But the sad truth is, we’re the ones that aren’t getting it. If you don’t believe me, just look at the stats on anti-anxiety drug sales in America, the divorce rate, the number of troubled kids.
If you’ve been struggling to “get ahead”, stop and consider if “ahead’ is where you really want to be. Look at your boss, your supervisor, your manager. Do they really look happy? Probably not. They’re saddled with a job that demands too much of their time, energy and integrity. And because they bought into that philosophy, they can’t really understand why anyone else would choose not to. They started out just like you, though….wanting more. Do you really need that promotion? Will working more hours for what will ultimately be less pay and less time with your loved ones really make you happy?
Of course, you don’t have to travel the world to find Willoughby. It’s right there. Right where you are now. All you have to do is stop running around trying to get more so you can enjoy life, when all you really need to do is enjoy life more.