The definition of the preposition “through” is: “in one end and out the other”. The informal spelling of it is “thru” which is what we now often see. The first “drive-thru” was at a St. Louis bank in 1930. Since that time, we do a whole lot more than make a bank deposit, by simply driving through something.
In addition to almost all banks now having drive-thru windows, you can drive through to buy groceries, beer, prescriptions, food, and coffee. You can drive through to drop off books, dry cleaning, mail and rented movies. You can even drive through to get a flu shot or to get married!
In some circumstances, that opportunity is ideal. Think of the young parent, with two children asleep in their car seats, needing to pick up medication prescribed by the pediatrician. How much easier is driving through a pharmacy than waking the children and getting into the store? How about someone, who has a tough time getting in and out of a car, and has benefitted by being able to drive through and get a cup of coffee? In both of those situations “driving through” is a huge convenience.
The problem is, we drive-thru our lives.
Since we live drive-thru lives outside our homes, it seems like the natural thing to do INSIDE our homes. Too often, our homes are simply houses that we make pit stops at, in the race to the end of our lives. We use the house as a drive-thru. We get the material thing we think we need and we move on.
We’ve become disconnected in a lot of ways and overly connected in the ways that limit human interaction. For some people electronic connection is non-stop. Between their smart phones, and Internet they’re always “ON”, but meaningful conversations– the sitting and talking with someone and being focused on that one other person, without distraction–are rare. We don’t interact with people face-to-face, in the same space very often, do we? We either communicate through a device (phone, text message, email) or we simply drive through.
There’s food in the refrigerator and pantry but there aren’t meals shared with a loved one. There are books on the shelf (or on a reader) but they’re not discussed with another person. There are problems to be solved, or joys to be shared, but we even communicate with the people we live with electronically. We get up in the morning, do what we have to do, leave the house, go the next space, get back to the house, and move through the day (and ultimately through life) in a whirlwind. We don’t wait for things. We don’t have much patience. We don’t remember the ART of BEING.
On Friday, since the kids didn’t have school, I had the privilege of going to a museum with my daughter, Sara, and my grandchildren. We thought it would be good to go on a weekday and avoid the weekend crowds. Turns out that, for a good part of the day, there were a LOT of school groups there. (Clearly we didn’t think about that!) Obviously, the chaperones (God bless them) had to keep the students moving pretty quickly through the museum because of the time crunch. Since there are a lot of interactive activities, things got congested quickly. I’m certain the students didn’t really have enough time to truly enjoy the electricity exhibit or the changing earth displays or the sports area. They probably didn’t each get a turn to DO the stuff that was there. I’m sure some of the kids (likely the ones who are always last) didn’t get to do most of the hands-on activities at all. They were rushed through. They had the drive-thru experience of that museum.
How much of their young lives are they already racing through?
Sara, Lauren, Ethan and I had a great day. We were engaged with each other. We took our time, we learned things, we looked at pieces of art, we talked about what we were seeing. We packed lunches and sat down and ate them together in the cafeteria. Sure we were in the car for a couple of hours but we didn’t “drive through” the day. We learned through it, we explored through it, we taught through it, we laughed through it. We walked through it…together…four simple human begins doing just that…being.
What would happen if you slowed down enough to really look at someone and say, “thanks for making me that cup of coffee”?
What would change if you didn’t “drive through” your life as much?
And, what would be different if you made some choices that would turn your house from a drive-thru to a HOME?