Okay. I admit it: I have these weird mini panic attacks when I try to watch television. I don’t have a TV on in my house but they keep popping up in public places like doctor’s offices and even at some gas stations. The repetitive recap of reality TV, and the incessant news panic are only annoying, but the expertly curled shining toothpaste tail and the ubiquitous gecko commercials seem like the nonsensical apparitions of deep insanity.
I think these mini panic attacks stem from a deeper fear. My absolute biggest fear in life is the thought of wasting my life. I am not so scared of dying – I have seen plenty of people go through that phase – but the thought of not squeezing every bit of light out of my allotted moments tears at my core fiber. I feel like time is rushing past me like a heavy current, an unstoppable deluge, and I feel a desperation to harness the power of that energy and not be drowned in it. I am not in the ‘various shades of gray’ life philosophy camp. I believe that things are or they are not, and so I see time as a force that I can either harness its power or be crushed by it.
I dichotomize everything. I believe in absolutes: specifically absolute right and wrong, but many humdrum activities of daily living are not so easily categorized. So in an effort to harness the power of the flow of time, I have dichotomized various activities as either “valuable” or “less valuable” and wrote them out in a convenient table for comparison.
- Healthy food.
- Handmade Christmas presents.
- Sit-down family dinner.
- Sunshine after a thunderstorm.
- Serious conversation.
- Craft projects with children.
- Hot coffee in the morning on the porch swing.
- A walk in the woods.
- Bible reading.
- Writing a poem.
- Having a best friend.
- Bedtime stories.
- Clean water.
- A good reputation.
| Less Valuable Things
- Prime time television.
- French fries and soda.
- Name brand clothes.
- Social media.
- Doing things faster.
- Alcohol tolerance.
- Talking cool.
- A good selfie.
- Eating out.
- Diversified portfolio.
- A clear complexion.
- Big television sets.
- The corporate ladder.
- Status updates.
- Mowed lawn.
Sometimes I hear people talk about “saving time” and I think that they mean, “If I can find a way to accomplish things faster, I will have more time for other more enjoyable endeavors.” This just does not work. There is no such thing as a time bank that we can go to make a withdraw of all the time we saved while rushing around. We are forced to live our lives inside of every breath. We have to spend the time as we receive it. What better way to spend it than on something we have previously deemed to be valuable?
If the spirit is defined as the life force occupying the mind, then what happens to the spirit if the mind is constantly preoccupied with incessant-repetitive-nonsensical suggestions. Does the spirit start to die out like an endangered species disappearing from habitat loss? For me, physical death wields no terror like that of spiritual death. Most of all, I want to be a thought producer and not just a thought consumer. I want to build habitat in my mind for creativity and not force creativity out with ready made plots and drama.
For me it is important to write down what is valuable, to really evaluate priorities in the light of the rest life. The written word breathes life into the dry bones of swirling personal thought. If dreams are not written down they are forgotten, this is true of both waking and sleeping dreams. If I live to be 85 like my great-grandmother Violet I will have 51 years left. So I have roughly 10 more opportunities to lay out my 5 year goals. What specifically do I want to accomplish? I have resolved that every season I will write a quick paragraph about what my life will look like in 5 years. I write it as if I was doing a quick character sketch for a novel. In the morning, over my coffee, I write out a few things that I can do during the day to reach my longterm goals. What does your character sketch look like? Here’s mine:
Amanda has a vegetable garden with lots of tomatoes.
She teaches a free yoga class at the local church.
She is working on a children’s story.
She will win a Newbery Award for children’s literature.
She is writing her journal out as a blog.
She runs in the woods with her dog.
She can do handstands.
Summer has us in a head lock here in Florida. My kids are going to be home with me… all summer long. I need to approach it with a plan so at the end of summer:
The children will know how to:
1. make a loaf of yeast bread from scratch
2. sew a pair of elastic waist shorts from a pattern
3. write in cursive
We will have read:
1. The Hobbit
2. The Chronicals of Narnia
We will have worked through:
1. the Algebra book
2. the Biology book
So there it is. I’m not going to just avoid death, I’m going to go to war against death, and kill it by inviting as much life into my life as I can fit into this habitat.
If you love life don’t waste time, for time is what life is made of. -Bruce Lee
In truth, people make time for what they CHOOSE to do; it is not really the time but the WILL that is lacking. -Sir John Lubbock
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:12 NIV