Is Instant Better – Or Just Different?

Instant Gratification…

It’s a term I throw around a lot especially in the conversations with my newer generation fiancee when I’m talking about my older generation stories from my past. I often talk about what it used to be like to have to wait for things compared to how it is now when everything is at your fingertips pretty much all the time. I realize that I am probably not the first to think about, write about, talk about or even blog about this concept. In fact I’m certain this topic has been addressed countless times. But for me it’s my first time and it’s the topic I’ve chosen for my first post in a good little while so here I go in the moment…for Instant publication. A bit ironic isn’t it?

The topic popped into my mind yesterday afternoon when we were driving out to the suburbs for a dinner that I would cook for my newer family. I say newer but they’ve actually been my family for over five years now. They are just newer than my older family from an older generation without instant gratification. That Redhead and I were talking about how easy it is to make a music album now. The fact that with a couple of dollars, a good Mac and a microphone pretty much anybody could publish an album. Furthermore, there are no production costs. Nobody needs to press a bunch of albums or produce a bunch of discs to ship out. All you need is a sound and then if you get lucky and are good anybody can start downloading your music digitally to their computers in an instant. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t mean to belittle how hard it is to make it in the music industry. It just means that you can get your stuff out there right away. No expensive studio time, no record labels, no politics or at least less politics.

The concept prompted me to tell a story about how back in the day we would go down to the Harmony House in suburban Detroit on the morning that the new Fleetwood Mac, Genesis or Police album was going to be released and we would wait in line to get into the store to be one of the first to buy the new album or tape. The concept was unimaginable to my 29 year old fiancee. I can only remember that the wait made the experience worth even more than it would have been if we had all sat in our own bedrooms and downloaded in an instant. Oh and that the people that the you met in the process so totally enhanced actually getting the new music.

I remember when I would look forward to summer Sunday mornings so I could get the Detroit News and see the baseball stats of all the players and the league leaders in every category. Now I can see everything at any moment on my iphone. In the 80’s I used to love the daily sports newspaper The National because I didn’t have to wait all week until Sunday to get a news tidbit about my teams. Now in the moment I can get a text from Team Stream multiple times a day. Progress maybe but what about the value of anticipation.

Anticipation. Yesterday while I was cooking that meal for my newer family I was having a conversation with my Mother-in-law to be and she was telling me that she got one of her favorite magazines in the mail earlier that day but she had put it in the office and saved it for later because she had a lot of other things to do to get ready for the day. Clearly an example of the previous generation’s patience I thought. I told her that she was conquering her haste. She said it wasn’t really a hasty decision but rather she understood she had to do other things first. I relayed to her that I wasn’t calling her hasty but rather I was referencing a famous martial arts story told in a book called Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams from many years gone by. The story goes like this:

A disciple was having tea with his Zen master when a postman arrived with a letter from the master’s family in Korea. Knowing he had been eagerly anticipating the letter the disciple paused in his conversation to allow his master to tear open the envelope and hastily pursue the contents. Instead, he put the letter aside, and continued with the conversation. The following day the disciple praised the self-control of the master, saying that he would have read the letter at once. “I did what I would have done had I been alone,” the master said. “I put the letter aside until I had conquered haste. Then when I set my hand to it, I opened it as though it were something precious. This allowed him to open the envelope slowly and carefully. The disciple enquired what such patience led to. “Those who are patient in trivial things in life and control themselves will one day have the same mastery in great and important things…” 

So my question then is this? Is instant gratification really better or is it taking the value of anticipation out of the equation. I argue ad nauseum with one of my older friends who has no computer that Wikipedia and technology are good things. That it is of great value to be able to pull out your smart phone and find out who in fact it was that censored Thomas Merton’s autobiography or when Beethoven’s birthday date was, but then again is it? What if you had to work to get that same information? What if you had to go to a library or consult with an expert? Would it be of greater value to obtain that information because you had to work for it or because you had to sleep on it or because you had to actually wait?

So I wrote this post and I was ready to publish it tonight so I could feed a bit of life into my tired older blog, but then if I am truly going to preach the value of anticipation shouldn’t I wait a few days to publish it? My fiancee has had a wonderful and well deserved time watching her blog grow in the last week with a few tremendously written and re-blogged posts. She has more that doubled my best month of views in only one day and I am so delighted for her. I can’t say that I’m not a little envious but at the same time we are coming from different places. From different generations. From different purposes.

With that in mind I choose to wait to publish this for a few more days or even a week. Tomorrow I will get up and make oatmeal. The steel cut, slow cook type that takes 30 minutes of constant stirring. I will wait until I get to work to eat it an savor it after I carry it there in an old school Thermos. I will use regular old white sugar instead of an artificial sweetener or raw agave. Then in a few days I will publish this very non-instant post in a very instant medium and then I will wait. I will wait to check my Facebook page to see if I get “likes”. I will wait to check my WordPress status to see how many views I get. I will wait and wonder if this will be the post that gets me “Freshly Pressed” and ultimately and hopefully it won’t even matter because the anticipation of wondering if anybody even cares what I happened to say will be better than actually knowing what the reality is…

How long will I wait? Who knows?

Maybe I’ll get my usual 20-30 views on the first day or maybe I’ll go viral while I’m not even looking. Will you share this with a friend? Will you recommend or re-blog this? Who knows? When it’s all said and done though I will know that I have indeed conquered haste and that alone will make it worth the time spent. I started this blog site without publishing it at first. My sister-in-law to be said yesterday she might do the same thing. I’ve been at it for two years with only my best interest in mind and there I still remain. A few views? A decided bonus. I guess when you are reading this it must mean it is out there for all eyes to see. What will happen next?

I would say I can only relax anticipate…

It’s a great life!

About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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One Response to Is Instant Better – Or Just Different?

  1. Pingback: Update on Conquering Haste and a Few Other Lessons | Jimswhimz's Blog

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