What's Another "Widget" Really Worth?

We live in a society in which productivity is fully expected and often demanded, sometimes regardless of the cost. Our promotions, acknowledgements, accolades, and recognitions are so often based solely on our ability to produce. This pressure may begin in our early years at home, is certainly seen in our years of schooling, and is exponentially manifested as we launch our careers. We are told in ways both inferred as well as conferred that our sense of self-worth is directly measured by how well we produce. So produce we do, for we want to make the mark and to be successful in the eyes of others as well as ourselves.

Often times we measure our success as a relational partner and parent by how well we financially provide for our family. Our exhaustive efforts are to produce "one more widget" that the consuming public says it wants, whether that widget is a new automobile, an insurance policy, a photograph, or another hour of overtime . As a result, the relational component of being a partner or a parent gets lost in the scramble. And at what cost? Marriages get taken for granted and become weary and stale. Children grow up without our actual experience of their various stages of growth and development. Friends and extended family members disappear out of neglect. Our bodies become over-taxed and susceptible to disease or other physical ailments, yet the production of the "widget" goes on.

There comes a point when we have to stop and ask ourselves "Is it really worth it? Why are we choosing to buy into this perspective of success and productivity? Is all of this really necessary?" In his book Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight In Our Busy Lives, Wayne Muller encourages us to embrace (and then practice) the concept that enough is enough. Every time we slight our relational partner, child, family member, or friend in an effort to produce yet one more "widget," we rob them and ourselves of an opportunity to connect and experience more fully the essence of who they are. We also rob ourselves of the opportunity to experience the person we would become by knowing the others in our lives more fully. Each hour spent, however we spend it, is an hour we will not reclaim. .

What's another "widget" really worth? Our marriage? Our family? Our friends? Perhaps this world would be a better place if our promotions, acknowledgements, accolades, and recognitions were, instead, based on our skillful ability to balance the expenditures of our time. What would happen if instead of applauding those who produce the most "widgets," we honored those who set and then follow a wisely planned budget for the use of their time? What if we so valued our connection with others that we rewarded those who adamantly protected their availability to family and friends, even if it meant there would be one less "widget" that day?