It's like I've always said, "I just love that International Herald Tribune."

The International Herald Tribune?

Isn't that the throwaway you ignore on the plane, in favor of your fourth reading of the spine-tingling, in-flight duty free magazine?

Yup.

And yet, a recent article featured there actually caught my fancy.

The premise was an absorbing one.

Let's approach America's best and brightest young business execs, who are at the vanguard of our ever-changing universe, and ask them to complete the following sentence, "I can't wait for the day when..."

An intriguing assignment! Surely their responses will lend new insight into the mysterious phenomena that pervade our collective consciousness. What does Western culture really yearn for? What do our dreams say about our hopes for the future? Beneath the vacuous malaise that permeates our daily tabloids, cable channels, and web sites, there must be an inner striving that tugs at our truest aspirations. What day can we not wait for?

Save the drum roll for the Dave Clark Five (remember them?)

"I can't wait for the day when we have a cell phone that works everywhere in the world, one with one number that can be reached anywhere. That would be great."

So offers one young general manager from Southern California. That's the day he is waiting for. The day a cell phone works everywhere in the world. O.K. He's entitled, I guess.

That's the day he is waiting for. The day a cell phone works everywhere in the world.

"I can't wait for the distinction between the old economy and the new economy to disappear entirely," submits a 39-year-old managing partner of a growing venture capital firm. I wish I understood exactly what that meant, but I suspect you and I are better off being left in the dark on that one, anyway.

Of course, he, too, is entitled to wait for any day he wants to wait for. Free country yada yada yada. But I'm having some trouble relating very strongly to these dreams. Let's try another.

"I can't wait for the day when you hit the 'Submit' button on an Internet order and the UPS man is almost instantaneously on the porch."

I don't know about you, but I'm thrilled when I'm home and the UPS man finally arrives. Is this executive vice president of a publishing company serious that her life's dream is faster delivery service?

Am I missing something? Is that the kind of day you can't wait for? Has life really been reduced to cell phones, the new economy, and the instant UPS man?

Speed, of course, has become the going rage. It doesn't seem to matter much where we're going anymore, as long as we get there in a GIGO second. From dialing to dating, shipping to shopping, grilling, billing, surfing, banking ... you name it! So, who can blame American executives for pining for the day when the future and the present practically coincide? Everyone gets caught up in the same web (pun intended).

I can hear the voices already. "He's another one of those old fashioned, fuddy-duddy, anti-progress guys, yearning for the retro days when people actually heard busy signals and associated George Foreman with boxing."

Au contraire, my friends. I loathe waiting for things just like you do. No sir. You won't catch me on a line at the Post Office or the Motor Vehicle Bureau these days. I'M TOO BUSY!

Progress is not my problem. Nor is speed or convenience. They're all great. The only problem I have with this is the "dream" issue. There's nothing wrong with utilizing technological advances to improve our quality of life. Embracing our scientific explosion is wonderful. But should that really dominate our dreams?

It is a challenge that each one of us should confront in a most serious way.

The challenge of completing the sentence, "I can't wait for the day when..." is most compelling, indeed. In truth, it is a challenge that each one of us should confront in a most serious way. It is part and parcel of a course of action that Judaism calls cheshbon hanefesh, "spiritual accounting."

We are encouraged to "take stock" of our standing in every role of life that we play -- and to do so on a regular basis. It is this introspection that is actually the essence of our daily prayers.

Think of cheshbon hanefesh as a kind of "virtual spiritual inventory", that can help prevent life's stressors and banalities from dominating our every day existence.

Ask yourself:

  • What kind of friend am I?
  • Am I the best spouse-employee-parent-child-volunteer-sibling-teacher I can be?
  • What activities are really important to me?
  • Do I surround myself with people who bring out the best in me?
  • How do I spend my leisure time?

    And then complete the sentence:

  • I can't wait for the day when...

Your completed sentence speaks volumes about your priorities in life. Of course that sentence can, and perhaps should, change frequently throughout your life. But when you know what it is you are waiting for, it helps you attain it more quickly and more completely.

But hope abounds. Let us re-visit the International Herald Tribune for one final quote. This one from the chairman of a genomic company based in New Haven, Connecticut.

"I cannot wait for the development of drugs that would wipe out a number of deadly diseases ... like cancer and late-onset diabetes. The hint of that reality is on us right now."

Sounds like someone I'd like to have lunch with.

Of course there is no "right" way to finish that sentence. But no matter. How you exactly answer the question is not nearly as important as remembering to ask it.