In his book Sabbath, Wayne Muller writes about what he calls the Theology of Progress.
Progress is the road to the new and improved promised land. At the end of progress, we will all have peak efficiency, superior productivity, and an elevated standard of living.
That pretty much sums up most of the blogs and books I read.
Our culture is built on this theology of progress — the belief that everything we do is an investment for a better future. If we do this thing now, it will set us up for a better tomorrow. We will reach more people, expand our business, create a better life.
The Problems With Progress
As Muller notes, there are a few of problems with this mindset.
(1) We Create a Defective Present
The pursuit of progress makes the present defective. Our daily life is an obstacle in the way of our happiness.
If the promised land [of progress] is the good and perfect place, then where we are right now must be an imperfect place, a defective place.
(2) We Don’t Stay in the Present
The present becomes a place of suffering that we are eager to escape. Happiness, satisfaction and delight are on the other side of where we are, just out of reach.
There’s always a gap.
Because it’s so terrible, we don’t stay. We constantly look to the next thing and the next thing beyond that.
What is your plan? Where are you going?
(3) We Don’t Rest
We are so busy racing to the future that we don’t give ourselves time to rest.
There is no time to rest, because we are on a very important mission, to boldly go where no species has gone before.
The Illusion of the Future
Of course, the future is an illusion. By the time we reach it, it has been swallowed by the present.
We mistakenly believe that if we move faster we will catch it. So we accelerate our lives to even faster speeds.
How’s that working out for you?
You Are Already Here
What if you’re already in the promised land?
Progress itself is an illusion because life is not linear. It moves in cycles. We move forward, then we regress. We deepen in wisdom and cultivate greater awareness, then we move forward a little more.
That wisdom and awareness only come when we slow down.
There is no need to race to the future. No matter how fast you move, it won’t be there when you get there.