One of my favorite books is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. For those who don't know the story, it is set in the not-so-distant-future; books have been banned and "firemen" are employed to seek out and burn books and the people who keep them. The story's protagonist, the fireman Montag, has lost faith in the righteousness of his profession and has begun saving books that he finds instead of incinerating them - a crime punishable by death.
In this scene, the suspicious fire chief, Beatty, pays an unexpected visit to Montag and his wife, Mildred, who is oblivious to her husband's illegal book collection. Montag is hiding a contraband book beneath a sofa pillow while Beatty recounts to them the history behind their profession of book burning:
Beatty peered at the smoke pattern he had put out on the air. "Picture it. Nineteenth-century man with his horses, dogs, carts, slow motion. Then, in the twentieth century, speed up your camera. Books cut shorter. Condensations. Digests. Tabloids. Everything boils down to the gag, the snap ending."
"Snap ending," Mildred nodded.
"Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two-minute book column, winding up at last as a ten- or twelve line dictionary resume. I exaggerate, of course. The dictionaries were for reference. But many were those whose sole knowledge of Hamlet (you know the title certainly, Montag; it is probably only a faint rumor of a title to you Mrs. Montag) whose sole knowledge, as I say, of Hamlet was a one-page digest in a book that claimed: now at last you can read all the classics; keep up with your neighbors. Do you see? Out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery; there's your intellectual pattern for the past five centuries or more."
Mildred rose and began to move around the room, picking things up and putting them down. Beatty ignored her and continued.
"Speed up the film, Montag, quick. Click, Pic, Look, Eye, Now, Flick, Here, There, Swift, Pace, Up, Down, In, Out, Why, How, Who, What, Where, Eh? Uh! Bang! Smack! Wallop, Bing, Bong, Boom! Digest-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline! Then, in midair, all vanishes! Whirl man's mind around about so fast under the pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary time-wasting thought!"
Mildred smoothed the bedclothes. Montag felt his heart jump and jump again as she patted his pillow. Right now she was pulling at his shoulder to try to get him to move so she could take the pillow out and fix it nicely and put it back. And perhaps cry out and stare or simply reach down her hand and say, "What's this?" and hold up the hidden book with touching innocence.
"School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored. Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work. Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?"
"Let me fix your pillow," said Mildred.
"No!" whispered Montag.
"The zipper displaces the button and a man lacks just that much time to think while dressing at dawn, a philosophical hour, and thus a melancholy hour."
Mildred said, "Here."
"Get away," said Montag.
"Life becomes one big pratfall, Montag; everything bang, boff, and wow!"
"Wow," said Mildred, yanking at the pillow.
"For God's sake, let me be!" cried Montag passionately.
Beatty opened his eyes wide.
Mildred's hand had frozen behind the pillow. Her fingers were tracing the book's outline and as the shape became familiar her face looked surprised and then stunned. Her mouth opened to ask a question...
- Fahrenheit 451 - 1995 publication
Sometimes, does it feel like everything is hurried; that everything is "abbreviated"; that there is no enjoyment of the process, but only a mad rush to "get-r-done"? In the fitness and strength and conditioning fields too, it seems that there is no quest for "mastery", only tangible, quantifiable, and hasty results.
"Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted." - Albert Einstein
Check-out aisles at the local grocery store sell magazines with the latest "Lose 10 Pounds In A Week!" article about a b-list celebrity; wildly popular S&C writers peddle ads disguised as information titled "Gain 50lbs On Your Bench In 4 Weeks!" repeatedly... for the same websites... and the same readers...; everything is reduced to a sound-byte, a Tweet, an abstract, a fast paced "Tabata" session...
I'm not really sure where I'm going with all this to be honest... Maybe what I want to say is that discipline and consistency without mindfulness and patience will run you into an injury-overtraining-laden wall sooner than you'd like. Abbreviated programs are great, but the path to mastery is a long one and abbreviated programs are no short cut.
Maybe I'm just trying to say that Ray Bradbury is a genius.