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Steve and Jill talk about whether life today is too fast-paced and hectic.
Steve: Hi Jill.
Jill: Hi Steve.
Steve: What have you got there?
Jill: I have a list from Yukiko one of our long-time, loyal, Linguist members.
I think she’s been around for a few years, anyway.
Jill: Yukiko from Japan and she has provided us with a long list of topics that, I believe, come from one of these English tests you can take in Japan; I forget what she said.
Eiken, is that one?
Steve: Oh Eiken, that’s the Japanese equivalent of, you know, IELTS or TOEFL or whatever.
Jill: I think that’s the one that she’s thinking of taking, I can’t remember.
Steve: Boy, that’s a long list.
Jill: So, we thought that we would just…
Steve: Just to give people an idea, what are some of the subjects there?
Jill: There are topics such as “Would more severe punishments prevent crimes?” “What things contribute to a person’s quality of life?” “Urbanization in Japan: Is there a crisis?” “Is our pace of life too fast?” “Can terrorism ever be eliminated?” I mean it’s a whole range.
Steve: You know these are some good questions.
We should put them in our system for people to use, because very often people don’t know what to write.
Or even for discussion.
Jill: Well, we do have a big long list…
Steve: Oh we do, aye?
Jill: …to choose from in the right section, if you need a topic.
But, certainly, these would be good ones to have in there as well, yeah.
Steve: Sure, yeah.
One thing I should point out, because Jill is sitting on a rubber ball here, a big rubber ball that’s about three feet off the ground, occasionally, there’s a funny noise.
It’s not a rude noise, it’s Jill moving around on her big rubber ball.
Jill: I’ll try to sit still.
Steve: No problem.
No, no, no problem, it’s very good for your back muscles.
It’s good, that’s why we have it.
We’re very health conscious here in the office.
Alright, Jill, you get to choose, which one should we talk about?
Jill: Oh wow, there are several here that are specific to Japan, so I’m going to steer clear of those maybe.
Steve: Okay, sure.
Jill: You would probably be able to talk about them, but I don’t think I’d have much to say.
Jill: So sort of a more general topic would be better I think.
So something like oh, we could talk about is our pace of life too fast?
Jill: And we could incorporate the whole double-income family into that.
Then let me ask you, is your pace of life too fast?
Jill: Sometimes I think so, but I get bored as well.
So I have to say I used to…a few years ago I would go home, whether it was the university or work and, basically, go home at the end of the day and sit there and watch TV for hours on end or whatever I did, not much.
Now, since being with Chris who is such an active person, it’s been great for me because I exercise regularly, I do things and it’s so much better.
I feel so much better and I look forward to it and I need it.
If I go more than a couple days without getting some sort of exercise I just don’t feel good and I start to feel crabby and anxious.
Steve: We notice at the office.
Steve: No we don’t.
Jill: So I think sometimes I feel like I’m always running from work to the gym to making dinner and so some nights it’s 8-9 o’clock at night before I sit down.
I don’t do that every night of the week because I do find it is a bit exhausting and sometimes I get worn out and then I just want a night where I do nothing.
Steve: You know there’s quite a well-known book that was written by a Canadian author and someone that my son knows and the book was called In Praise of Slow.
The person who wrote that is on my…my son plays hockey in London.
He’s a professor, as you know, at the University of London, but he belongs to this hockey team that has Canadians and Russians and Finns and whatever, various expats and a few Brits, that play hockey over there.
But this fellow is a journalist and he wrote this book called In Praise of Slow .
I don’t think he was talking so much about whether people get enough exercise, but this whole idea that people try to cram more and more things into their day.
Jill: Well, that’s right, but it’s hard.
If you work all day and you want to be healthy, so you’re trying to incorporate exercise, but then there’s housework and there’s cooking and if you have kids there’s children.
Steve: And people become very ambitious for their children, so they are driving their children to, you know, whatever it might be…
Jill: …music practice and soccer…
Steve: …music and sports and so there is just more and more pressure to do things.
Whereas in the old days, we just let the kids run around and amuse themselves.
Certainly, on the Internet there are a lot of these self-help, life-hack sites: “Ten Different Ways to be More Efficient”, “Five Different Ways to Make More Money” and so forth and, of course, our life today is faster.
One hundred and fifty years ago you didn’t have the option of jumping on an airplane or getting on an airplane.
Steve: We use English a little casually here, you don’t jump on an airplane, but getting on an airplane and going off as you and Chris did.
You’ve been to a number of places…
Jill: …in the last couple of years, yeah, Central America and China and places in the states.
Yeah, people just didn’t do those things, people stayed home.
And I think there’s something to be said about that too.
Nowadays, at least in our society, it’s quite common for there to be two parents — both parents — working, so double-income homes, which I think gets very stressful.
Jill: There wasn’t so much of that in the past.
I think our lifestyle is too fast-paced, in general.
People seem to not get enough sleep and to be stressed out and I think that’s a lot of the reason why people don’t always eat very healthily because they’re eating McDonald’s on the way to taking their kids to some class that they had to get to right after work or right after school.
Steve: I mean one example of, perhaps, a place where people take it a little easier, in a way, is let’s say France or even in Spain.
It used to be that people would go home for lunch and take two or three hours and in Spain they would then have a siesta, apparently, and they would sleep until five.
But, of course, the disadvantage of that is that then they’re in the office until 7 or 8 or 9 o’clock at night.
Jill: Well, that’s right.
But then I think they stay up later, in general, there as well, in Spain anyway.
Steve: But I think even in Spain they only have 24-hours in the day.
Jill: Well yeah, exactly.
Steve: So, how they all manage to fit this in I don’t know.
Some of the criticism is, too, that some people are too ambitious.
So you mentioned women working and so now there are people that say that women are so professionally ambitious that, therefore, they delay having children, which they sometimes regret.
So they don’t have the time to, you know, just spend time with their children.
But then why shouldn’t a woman have a career if she wants to have a career?
Or they criticize the men, the high-powered lawyers or executives, that are working 50-60-70 hours and don’t have time to spend with their kids.
Then all of a sudden the kids are grown up and they never really got to spend much time with their father or their mother, depending on the situation.
Jill: That’s right and I think that happens quite often now in our society.
I don’t know, it’s a tough one.
Steve: But you know, I wonder if that isn’t also part of our tendency just to want to feel guilty all the time.
Everything I hear indicates that in the old days, certainly, the father didn’t spend any time with the kids.
Steve: He went out with his cronies playing cards or drinking or whatever they did.
Jill: Or farming from dawn until dusk or doing whatever, yeah.
Steve: Whenever I read a biography of someone…right now I’m reading the biography of Stalin, young Stalin; very interesting.
But I mean his father was an old drunk and beat him up.
Jill: Oh nice.
Steve: He certainly didn’t spend a lot of quality time with Stalin, maybe that’s part of the problem, I don’t know.
But, so yeah, I think people also have a tendency…like this mom you described who’s got a job and she’s driving her kids here and there and while she’s doing all of this and cooking she feels guilty at the same time.
She’s just loading all this pressure on herself.
Jill: Too much pressure, yeah.
Steve: I wonder sometimes whether the solution isn’t just to accept the lifestyle that we have, I don’t know.
Jill: Yeah, I don’t know, I think something has got to give because I think, in general, people are too stressed out.
Steve: But, can you imagine say 150 years ago, it was not uncommon for a mother to have 12-15 kids.
Jill: Oh, I know.
Steve: Now are you telling me that she wasn’t busy?
Jill: Well and you know I think of that too.
I think okay, fine, they weren’t driving their kids to different events and weren’t doing all these different things but, as you say, 6 or 7 kids or 10 kids was very common.
Just even, my mom is one of 7 and my dad is one of 6, so not very long ago.
And yeah, of course, I’m sure those mothers…
Steve: I mean one is sick and one is crying and one is lost.
Jill: Sure you’re home, but still you’re very, very, busy until probably late at night before you get to go to bed and then you’re probably up very early in the morning.
So it’s a different type of busy, but I don’t know if we’re really any busier.
Jill: I don’t know.
Steve: I think the important thing and what I try to do and it’s difficult to do is to just enjoy what you’re doing.
You know, I mean I’m trying to study Russian.
I have books that I want to read.
I like to get out and get exercise.
Now when I’m studying Russian I think I should be out running or when I’m running I think I should be doing something else.
Steve: If you’re always feeling guilty that you aren’t doing something else then that’s not very good.
Jill: That’s a problem, yeah.
Steve: But if you just enjoy what you’re doing…
Jill: …and if you set realistic goals.
Okay, I want to achieve this today or this week or this month and it’s not totally unattainable that you’re just going to feel disheartened or guilty because you weren’t able to achieve it.
You have to be realistic in what you can achieve.
Steve: I think that’s a very important point.
You’re far better off to say today I’m going to do two things and do them rather than to make up a list of 10 things, eight of which are carried over from yesterday.
Jill: That’s right.
Steve: And then you’re not going to get any of them done.
Jill: And then you’re going to feel frustrated and whatever because you couldn’t get them done.
So yeah, I don’t know.
Steve: There you go, we’ve talked about the pace of life and how busy we all are.
Again, we’d be delighted to hear comments from any listeners with their own experience or even if there are other questions that we can talk about.
But I think we’ve got such a great list here that Yukiko sent in…
Jill: …it will keep us going for a while.
Steve: It will keep us busy for a while. Okay, thanks very much Jill.
Jill: Thanks, bye, bye.
Steve: Bye, bye.