Posts Tagged ‘Neuroscience


this labor day – much of america was actually laboring

Labor Day just isn’t what it used to be – though I think we can safely say that about most things. Or as Dylan phrased it, “The times they are a changin” and though he was speaking to a more politically and socially charged issue than a federal holiday, the same sentiment can be assessed of Labor Day’s evolution, or reversion for that matter. Image

From its inception and first governmental recognition in 1886, Labor Day was meant to pay tribute to the “contributions workers made to the strength, prosperity and well-being” of our nation. Paying tribute by providing a holiday to celebrate those contributions.

An article in Time magazine properly titled This Labor Day, Much of America Will Be . . . Laboring stated that ironically many workers across the country now will be spending Labor Day at work or looking for jobs. “Bloomberg BNA data shows that 39 percent of employers will keep operations open and require some workers to come into work, while a separate survey of users says that 45% of those folks will spend Labor Day working or looking for work.” An interesting departure from its original purpose.

But as we look at this contradiction, it begs the question – if we cannot slow the cogs of industry on a day federally devoted to praising the influences of and the resulting progress or workers – then when and why is it even important to do so?

Most all of us personally know what a challenge a day off line or out of pocket can be; even if it is a pre selected one!  Unplugging, disconnecting and unwinding can be an unnerving and difficult task in this day and age – an age of “constant electronic noise”. But the importance of doing so cannot be lost.

A New York Times article I ran across a few years ago put this in a very reflective perspective for me.  The reporter followed five neuroscientists on a week long camping, hiking and rafting trip down the San Juan River in a remote area of southern Utah.  “It was a primitive trip with a sophisticated goal: to understand how heavy use of digital devices and other technology changes how we think and behave, and how a retreat into nature might reverse those effects.”Image

“If we can find out that people are walking around fatigued and not realizing their cognitive potential …. What can we do to get us back to our full potential?”

As the researchers continued through the weekend, it was noted that the group became “more reflective, quieter, more focused on the surroundings.  Even without knowing exactly how the trip affected their brains, the scientists were prepared to recommend a little downtime as a path to uncluttered thinking by the end of their voyage.”  And though their motivation was centered on the effects of digital media and stimulation on attention and focus, it is an interesting parallel to our world of busy, rush and hurry.

Now lets apply that to Monday.  While we are all acutely aware that freight does not stop moving and America needs our trucks and drivers to do their expert jobs even when the lights go down or the government holds a holiday, it is imperative to know the benefit of unplugging, disconnecting even if only for a single day.

Most importantly, its about getting to the root of what this holiday, this Labor Day, is about — celebrating those honored jobs, the workers committed to them, opportunities provided by this industry and the families that benefit from the goods that flow on the backs of American transportation.  Benefits that provide for us all.

With that thought, I hope you all had a restful Labor Day and the time to truly unwind, unplug and be thankful.


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