In my quest to be a little more mindful / present I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reading.  One of the things I’ve been thinking about on and off for the past few months are buffers – things that separate us from something else.  The obvious ones (i.e. the buffer between you and the elements = your house) and the not so obvious ones (i.e. the buffer between you and your food = farmers, distribution networks and grocery stores).  Even though I’ve been thinking about buffers on and off for a while now, I  haven’t been able to get anything concrete down on the blog yet because it seems to be such a big topic.  The modern world is filled with an ever increasing amount and complexity of buffers: traditional media, the education system, the political system, gadgets, energy, corporate jobs, religion, social media, marketing.  The list goes on and on – all layers on this giant cake we are building called modern life.
When I first started thinking of buffers it was as a negative thing: we need to reject buffers because they keep us away from what’s real.  The buffers in the food system deliver processed crap that makes people fat and stupid.  The buffers in education keep children from learning how to learn and instead indoctrinate them to respect authority.  The buffers of the police make us less aware and therefore more of a potential target.  Buffers separate us from reality and although that may “feel” good it usually isn’t good for us.  Even buffers that seem like they would be good for us sometimes aren’t because of their unintended consequences.
So buffers are bad, right?  Not exactly.  Buffers are also the basis of any sort of specialization and trade – i.e. they allow me to live well and NOT have to do everything.  Grow all my own food, teach my own children, generate my own energy, make all of the things I need to use.  Buffers are the consequence of the natural division of labor.  Buffers let all of us live at a higher standard – I can do one thing well and trade with others doing another thing well and we all get ahead.
The important thing about buffers is being thoughtful about the ones you choose to bring in to your life.  Often times once they are in your life it can be hard to get them out.  Know what the buffer is doing for you and what you are not getting to do / know / experience as a result.  Know what the buffer might be changing as it moves things from the source to you – and make sure you are OK with those changes.  Does the buffer seem contradictory in any way?  Is a buffer that is supposed to make you well making you sicker?  Is a buffer that is supposed to make you rich making you poorer?  Is a buffer that is supposed to make you smart making you dumber?  If a buffer is anyway contradictory, its a good sign to steer clear.
Like most things that mean something there are no black and white answers.  Do you have any buffers that have contradictions?  Are you going to do anything about it?






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