Amazement takes a little humility


Everything’s Amazing, Nobody’s Happy YouTube Link

Commedian Louis CK did some comedic commentary on Conan O’Brein’s show recently about amazement and what he calls a generation of spoiled idiots. He contends that people who fly, instead of complaining about delays and inconveniences, should recognize the amazing fact that “You’re sitting in a chair, in the sky…” and can arrive at a destination in six hours on a journey that once took months. Instead stories of flying usually include complaints about the wait and the inconvenience.

Louis believes that the generation who has missed the experience of having to wait, of some things taking time, has come to expect everything immediately. He describes a man becoming frustrated because the internet on the plane has problems when the guy only just discovered there was internet available on a plane. “How quickly the world owes him something he knew existed a few seconds ago.”

I’m not sure this is generational but rather, cultural. As we’ve become accustomed to instant access to information, to cash, to one another, we’ve developed an attitude that we’ve somehow earned the right not to be inconvenienced.  People are frustrated by being put on hold, having to wait in line, traffic, service interruptions. Some of us become visibly angry when we experience anything that might cause delay.

This prideful self-importance translates into impatience, frustration and sometimes downright rudeness. We can spend our time complaining about shoddy service, incompetent manufacturing and poor planning. Or, instead of looking at life as a fault-finding mission we can be amazed.

Louis CK reminded me of some inventions that I find amazing. The fact that I can set a thermostat and my house pretty much remains at a constant temperature is a constant source of wonder. I grew up with a space heater. We turned a knob and gas was released into the room then we held a match to the front of the heater and it would light. Sometimes burst of flame shot inches from the hand holding the match. It was warm standing over the heater but on the opposite side of the room it was cold and, since it might leak gas, I couldn’t sleep with it on. My mother still used space heaters in the mid-1990’s when she finally moved out of the house. Elsewhere in the world, even in the western world, people light space heaters with matches or rely on fireplaces for warmth, so, for me at least, thermostats are amazing. I grew up in Louisiana with no air conditioning. I am more than amazed by air conditioning, I’m reverent. What amazes you?

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