From an early age, we are taught to defer certain gratifications. “No pudding until you’ve eaten your veg”, “No playstation until you’ve done your homework”. We learn to put off children, hobbies, family, projects that are dear to us, until the weekend, or the holidays, or till we get promoted, or rich, or retire.
We are conditioned to put off the gratifications of living in the service of work.
On the other hand, we’re constantly being conditioned to gratify some of our wants immediately – chocolate, ice cream, fast food, fast fashion. Apps and gadgets are constantly being invented that allow us to gratify every consumptive whim in no time at all. ‘Alexa, did somebody say Just Eat?’
No wonder we’re stressed out. We’re being subjected to conflicting messages. Defer this gratification, but not that one. Put this off, but do this other thing right now.
What if we decided that the process of living was important? That there’s more to life than the instant gratification of childish wants, the accumulation of stuff, in the hope that it will compensate for the lack of enjoyment of the process by which we earn enough to buy it?
Coronavirus has given us a glimpse of this. And the world didn’t fall apart. In fact in some key respects it got better.
Let’s not waste that glimpse, queuing up outside Primark.