2017-05-06 Translation of "Lack of Time Syndrome, the meaning of hurried lifestyle" by Seaweed Bear.

Loose transcript of 匱乏時間症候群,匆忙人生的意義:海苔熊
This is the first draft of the translation. I hope to clean it up later.

Hello everyone, I'm seaweed bear.

Right after listening the last talk I didn't know where to look. Since every time I have come I talk about the topic of love, and they just had a talk about it, I really don't know what to talk about now.

I feel like today I'll share a bit of my personal stories. It has been quite a while since I published a book and until I published the current lovelorn book. In reality what affected me the most was my extremely busy daily life. You all might not know this, but when you just get home and have to start working on tomorrow's draft and then in the blink of an eye, the next day having to go to multiple locations to give presentations, get on the high speed rail and prepare the next slideshows. Then once you finish you get there-- then you have to get on a taxi and start replying to your emails but typing is too slow so you use voice dictation and after taking a long time to do so you finally arrive to the venue, you finish the presentation and then you have to go to the next place.

Now, in reality I feel like this style of living is alright. Haven't bumped into any electric poles when texting and walking, nor did I step on any dog shit. However, during class, I started to realize something wasn't right. While I was giving a lecture, and since the school had decreed that during class we couldn't talk about anything sexual, I hesitated for a second and suddenly I felt dizzy with blur vision and feeling little nauseous. My students asked me to sit on the side and take a rest. Then I was sent to the clinic. The doctor asked if I wanted to take a gastrointestinal endoscope. At that moment I was thinking "Whoa, I'm only 30 years old now, and have to get a gastrointestinal endoscope. You've got to be joking". As I was thinking that, the doctor had brought the super long endoscope. At that moment I felt life was not worth this discomfort. If you have ever been kicked in the nether regions then you know that is very painful, but the endoscope was 10x more painful than that. I really wanted to kick the doctor but then he said that if I were to kick him, we'd have to start all over again. So I decided to let it be. As I left the clinic, I started to wonder how I was living my life, causing me to be so busy and getting these ailments at such a young age.

I don't know if everyone have thought of this. In reality, we currently have more time than any previous generation, but we constantly feel that we have no time. Mail back then would take ages to be sent and received. When my parents were writing love letters to each other they were still inscribing them on tree leaves. Nowadays you can send a text message and the other person will reply instantly. When you are doing laundry you have a washer to do it for you. [Fight monsters, level up], learning math online. Then could you think about why time still flies by us? I later thought about it, and came to the realization that our stress about time isn't because we feel stressed due to lack of time, but because of stress that we feel the lack of time. In reality in this era, we go through more information in a day than the Emperor Yong Zheng approved memorials in his lifetime.

In this situation where we have a lot of time but also a lot of things to do, we are first faced with the problem of "seeking stimulation". For example, I don't know if everyone's the same as me having this kind of OCD, called, I personally call it the "Red notification OCD". Every time I pick up my smart phone, no matter where I am, whether on the bus, on the high speed rail, or the bathroom, and you unlock it to see Line, Facebook or something having a red circle saying 358, you get an impulse to open it. If you don't, you feel like your hands aren't working properly. I just have that weird feeling, as if that number has a great significance on my life. As if once I open it, all truths will be unlocked to me. I could never figure out why I had this dilemma, until I recently read some articles about time. I realized there is a secret. The secret is, most of the time we are seeking stimulants. In caveman era, their lives were very simple. To be chased, and be chased every day and avoid getting eaten, and that was it. So our brains came up with a system fight or flight. If there's a dangerous stimulant around you, your locus coeruleus will signal some data for you to start fleeing or freeze on the spot. See if you want to pretend to be dead or run away as fast as you can. However, it is impossible for us to experience these fight or flight moments every day in our current lifestyle. Therefore we keep seeking for tiny tiny stimulations. I.E. Your instructor replied to your email, or your lover sends you a message. Also if they read but did not reply for a very long time and then they send you a sticker. Or your mom sends you a message with Top 10 ways the Buddha protects you. You don't want to reply to that but not replying to your mom is also wrong. In these moments, the notification makes you wonder what they sent you. When you open this stimulant, you are giving your brain a positive feedback. Just like an organizer in your brain spinning its wheels.

So the first thing we want to do in our busy lives is to go look for stimulants. We also do the same on Facebook, we scroll through our news feed about our friends, hitting the like button as much as possible. After that you check the comments to see what people have been saying. Then when there's breaking news, you also look at what others have said, and what others have said about the stuff others have said. However, there's something very strange about this. It is the fact that we always leave very short comments. Why is that? It is because we live in an era of fake interaction. If you spend too much time on one person, then you spend very little time on others. But you have 400+ friends on Facebook. There's no way you'd only focus on one person at a time. Therefore as you scroll through everyone's posts, you leave tiny comments across the wall and hit the like button on every post you see. Because you are emperor Yong Zheng, you hit the like button as if to signify you have read the memorial. However, keeping track of this many people you'll come to the realization that in the end, you didn't really pay attention to anybody. You only paid attention to yourself. Because you can't leave that place and you are merely living a lifestyle where clicking or not clicking the like button has no impact at all.

I feel that the second issue that has to deal with my feelings of busyness is "fear of loss". I don't know if everyone noticed, that when everyone gets on the metro train, everyone does the same thing, they look at their phones. It seems that the current person reads 2 books. Facebook and Notebook. As if they didn't read these books, their lives would be meaningless. So everyone on the streets focus on their phones and pay no attention to what is happening around them. So why is there such a fear of loss? There's a special notion that happens with this. Which is that we think that the more you reach out to grab things, the more you'll have. But in reality, the more you reach out, the less you'll get. For example when I eat a meal, I would read that day's articles and papers while eating and finish the meal. One day, a coworker sitting next to me asked me "Hey, I noticed your bento has a veggie roll, that veggie roll looks super appetizing, it must taste great, does it?" and I replied "What? My bento has a veggie roll?" Then he said "You've eaten the same bento from the same place for so long and you didn't realize there was a veggie roll?" That's when I suddenly felt "whoa, how did I spend so much time on articles and papers that I didn't even notice whether my bento had a veggie roll or not". This is actually common nowadays, and if you go to the bookstore you'll notice they try to tell you the secret. You look at all these self-help books and they'll most likely tell you about "downshifting", "Participating in the current moment", "You can get the future by interacting with the now", etc. But did you realize that they never tell you what the trade off is for focusing in the present? Downshifting your life has a very important trade off which is, when you focus in the present, and take your time to do the tasks, you'll be doing less during a day. One day I was talking to an editor and telling him about how I felt I never had enough time to do all the things I had to do and asked him how I should deal with this issue. Then the editor told me a secret, this is a secret that everybody knows about but rarely achieve. If your life is very busy, and you keep rushing to get things done. Then the first thing you should do isn't to slow your pace down, but to sacrifice a part of what you do. It seems easy when you hear it, but when friendship, family, money, and love are put in front of you, which one do you sacrifice? It would be unthinkable to sacrifice the same one every time. So for example I really like to play with Gunpla, in the end in order to maintain my relationship with my girlfriend, I set Gunpla aside. Now at home I have a huge stack of Gunpla. Every time I add another Gundam to the stack, I know I have to accompany my girlfriend for another hour. This is my current sacrificial strategy. I mean, that's just how it is. It would be impossible to accomplish everything.

The 3rd issue is very much related to our life and soul. It is the fact that we have the need to switch our lives from "working mode" to "being mode". I remember a while ago when I was still working at a hospital in the psychiatric ward. I realized I was happier working there than my current work situation of complex interactions with audiences and the world. It's not because of the cases and patients being interesting pretending to be a mushroom and then asking if I wanted to be a mushroom with them. It was because when I worked there, I had access to a large space to run (exercise). At that time I lived at Beitou and during lunch I'd go run around the mouth of the volcano. Every time I'd picture myself as Frodo from The Lords of the Rings. Every time I finished my run I'd feel reinvigorated and energized. I always thought this was an effect of exercising. Later on some studies suggest that exercising doesn't actually increase production of endorphins. Then why is it that I felt happy? What I realized is that every time I went for a run, I'd notice some tiny fruits by the entrance of the volcano path, some small bamboo shoots, or some beaten paths, tree leaves around the area, or the feeling of sulfur smoke escaping the volcano. You usually don't notice the effect of these smells and noises in your daily life. But when I was running, I'd spend time to notice these things. In reality this focus and being present in the now, allowed me to feel happier. Psychologists have many studies about "focusing in the present" and they concluded that the more you focus on the current task as opposed to multi-tasking the more likely you will be happy. If you are doing a task and thinking about something else at the same time, your brain will end up in a mind wandering state. If you do this everyday, you'll come to realize you feel as if you are floating through life. You could think that you are surfing the internet, but really, you end up feeling as if you don't have a place to feel anchored and safe. I came to realize this applied to human interaction too. The busy lifestyle also affects human interaction. One day there was a student who ran towards me. He had in his hands his art project telling me "teacher, look, I drew a Mother's day card!". He handed the card to me, and even though I'm not his mom, he wanted my acknowledgement that the drawing was good. Before I even looked at the card I had already started saying "Wow! It's so cute, how do you draw so well?". Then the student told me, "Teacher, you have it upside down." and he continued, "Teacher, you are so fake, you didn't even look at it". I was taken aback and wondered if there was some kind of turning point in my life. The empathy, care and support which I learned in school had all but vanished because of my busy lifestyle. At that time I was troubled about this and that night while eating dinner I discussed this issue with my girlfriend. I told her "hey, what should I do? I feel that my life is too busy nowadays. That even when my student hands me his project I don't make an effort to look at it." At the moment my girlfriend didn't say anything. She pulled out her phone from her pocket and opened the notepad. She had written on it "March 15th, lunch 3 minutes, dinner 7 minutes. March 16th, breakfast 2 minutes, lunch 4 minutes". Then she said, "your daily allotted time for meals is equivalent to other people's time for one meal. Everyone who comes looking for you all feel you are always in a hurry. They all feel like if they spoke a few more words, they would be taking away a lot of your time. How would students dare to tell you about their stories?". I remember previously I had a friend who told me "it's crazy man! One moment you are still behind me, and the other you are not. You are like the wind". At that time I felt happy about it, yea! I'm like the wind, very agile. Then I later thought, "My God, why am I living my life where I can't stay in one place for long and have to rush everywhere?". In psychology there's a theory. When you actively attempt to maintain an emotional distance with those around you, in reality you are just "escaping intimacy" (running away from commitment). I thought about why I had such a hard time maintaining a deep intimate relationship with those around me. Why when a reader asks me a question I would answer quickly without putting too much thought into it. I then realized it seemed to be related to an experience I had in college. I had a friend whom I really liked. We were a buddy-buddy relationship. We valued each other and we decided that every Christmas we would exchange a Christmas card. She said that it was a good idea. But then I told her that I am scared of rejection. For example, I'd be hurt if I were to send you a card and you didn't send me one back. She told me "It's OK, you send me one and tomorrow I'll send you one back" So I sent her a card the next day, but she didn't send one back. From then on I believed that even those you trust and like the most are likely to betray you, then who else can you trust? Since then on, my readers knew not to send me cards, because I would never read them. Since even if I read them, I'd be scared that they were detailed or long, with "I love you", "I really like you", and really emotional messages. I would go "Eeuughh stuff that should not be made public, so scary". In reality, such a phobia really affected me. I remember a psychiatrist friend once told me. If you realize some people around you hold on to an abnormal lifestyle, you should wonder what benefits this abnormal lifestyle brings them. So I thought back, I wonder what kind of benefits this lack of time lifestyle brought me. Thinking back, the benefits aren't few. Because I was very busy, I didn't have to create deep emotional relationships with others. Because I was very busy, I didn't have to study much about emotions. Because I was utterly swamped, I didn't have to stop and network with people. Because I was too busy, I wasn't able to really feel the happiness, pain, and sadness of those around me. What kind of benefit is this? If I ever get betrayed, lied to, or broken up, I won't feel as bad about it. Since I didn't really have a strong emotional connection with you. So if you betray me, hate me, leave me or don't trust me, my pain will not be as bad. But in reality I still need them, I still need to create a connection. Then the pain point is that when I really want to create a connection with others, they'll think "But you are always in a hurry, why should I make a deep emotional connection with you?" Such a complex and hurried trend was kept up until one day I went to the Chinese medicine clinic. The massage therapist while massaging my feet would tell me "oh this is really serious, gastric ulcers and your hurried lifestyle..." and he'd massage my feet, my hamstrings, my quads, and getting closer to weird places. In conclusion, he then massaged a place which caused me to scream pain, and I asked "Mister, what's this place you are massaging?". He then asks "Do you really want to know?", I affirmed that I did. "Well, this is the uterus". Once I heard that I laughed out loud. I laughed, and he laughed. Then he asked me "When was the last time you laughed this hard?". I suddenly realized I hadn't laughed in a very long time. He then continued "In reality, I can't really help you with your illness, and your symptoms. This is because you chose to live life in a hurry. If you step out of the clinic, and next week you maintain your lifestyle. It won't be long before you come back to me. So I'll just keep earning your money, and then you'll keep giving me your hard earned money. Isn't that all the same?" I thought he made quite a bit of sense. So I asked him for salvation. He said going to the temple asking for your fortune would be useless. So he offered me 3 suggestions. If you can follow them, then you will do well. Your body will slowly heal. Number 1, walk as much as you can, at least 1 hour every day. I said "My God, I already have no time to do things, how can I walk for an hour?", After number 1, he gave me suggestion number 2. Sleep early. I said "I already don't have time, how can I go sleep early?" He said that I have to go to sleep before 11 PM. "Also, getting some sun would be beneficial. You just have to remember walk, sleep early, get some sun. Do it 3 times a day but you actually have to do it". So I really tried it and walked for an hour, and would often try to sunbathe. I would also try to talk to the middle aged women that frequent the parks. At first I thought it would be impossible to get 1 hour of time out of my day. But then I slowly realized something interesting. When I try to walk at the park for an hour, my work efficiency was actually better than if I had stayed at home all day. I also tried sleeping earlier and the extra energy I gained would serve me well to be more efficient at doing other things. A few days ago I finally returned to BeiTou. I went to BeiTou with my girlfriend to do a foot bath. So we both went to a ditch where the hot spring water flowed. Now granted there may have been restaurants upriver that used this water but we didn't care. So we found a rather hidden place, we both put our shoes and socks behind us and put our feet into the ditch. Watching the steam wash off our toes and raise to the top of the leaves on the trees with a faint smell of sulfur flowing in the air. Then I saw the sun rays pass through the tree leaves landing on my girlfriend's shoulders and face. I thought to myself "Whoa, she's beautiful". When was the last time I looked at her this way? feels like it has been too long. Anyone in a relationship could tell you that you don't really look at your girlfriend. Then I realized something, I was happier when I spent more time focusing on my own life. Just like in the book "Study of a lifetime" says. "When you give more time to your life, time will give you more life". Thank you everyone.