Are you building your life on sand?

To speak of the “sands of time” provokes an image of shifting sands and dunes with the grains of sand being blown helter skelter. The shape of sand dunes is constantly changing and taking on new forms. Sand seems so weak and has such a lack of substance. We warn people not to build their house on sand. Sand is not a good foundation. Our lives and efforts can be like this sand. Think about how brief our accomplishments are when measured against the time line of progress. It is interesting that some achievements of humanity are still studied and talked about(for instance, the steam engine and polio vaccine) while the vast multitude of human efforts are long forgotten.

What makes some deeds and inventions so important and worthwhile that they will last as long as the sands continue to blow and shift? You are likely to say “well, they made a big impact on the human race or they made an important contribution to progress.” If so, were these events just random or were they as predetermined as evolution seems to be? Did we really choose these events, or did the events choose us?

If you could go back and reorder events, which ones would you redo or leave out? What if we had not invented the atom bomb? What if the very possibility of the atom bomb and relativity never existed? What if Einstein had never been born? How would the sands of time have been different? Alternatively, would the inevitable blowing and shifting still have caused the same patterns? Would we still have had Hitler and Stalin? What choices that you make today will affect your life tomorrow and the day after?

What accomplishments or efforts of your life will fit into the progress of the human race? What achievements or goals are you striving for that will be remembered in the sands of time? Are they worth the effort?

What if we could slow time down?

Your “time is running out!” is a familiar line from many crime movies. Usually, the villain has just given a long winded speech on why the hero or heroine will die and promises a painful death. Of course, we all know, the heroine will not die and she will find some way to get her time back. If the villain had just shut his/her mouth and done the job, the hero would not have had the time to get out alive. The villains never seem to figure out that giving the hero this extra time will allow them to survive. We could say that the hero/heroine has managed to put time back into the bottle.

The metaphor of “time in a bottle” evokes sands running out of an hourglass or a clock slowly counting down. For each of us, our time runs down each day. Our lives speed up with each passing day and the weeks fly by like days, then the months fly by like weeks, until finally the years seem to pass like months. If only we could slow down the speed, because our time is running out!

Have you ever wondered why time keeps running faster and faster? What if we could somehow make it slow down? Time becoming slower and slower and slower instead of faster and faster and faster. Can this be possible? Is it something we can control? I think we can. If we can make it go faster and faster, why can’t we make it go slower and slower? Most of us are bent on speeding it up and we are continually finding ways to make our time go faster and faster. Multitasking, driving while talking on the cell phone, working 24/7 are all ways we use to speed time up. What if we found as many creative ways to slow time down?

I used to do some canoe racing and was always trying to paddle as fast as I could to get from one point to another. One day an old friend and avid canoeist asked me if I ever stopped to smell the flowers. In his prime, he had been a formidable canoe racer and I highly respected his ability. He told me that he had wasted too much of his youth trying to get to places in a hurry and had missed many of life’s great opportunities. He now took time to smell the flowers. I began to do the same thing. I leaned that time does indeed slow down when you are smelling flowers. Life looks different when you stop watching the clock and find ways to slow things down. You begin to live and enjoy what you do and what you have.

Do you think life is moving too fast? Are your days mere blurs of activities? Do you move constantly from one thing to another? Would you like life to move slower? Have you ever thought of all the ways you could slow time down? You are in control of the speed with which your life goes by? Maybe you should find some ways to put on the brake. Make a list and see what you can do to slow things down in your world.

How much time can you give to help someone else?

“Just a minute, please.” How many times a day do you hear that phrase? When you do hear it, do you believe it? Of course not, but you are probably too polite to dispute it. This short phrase or perhaps request is often used regardless of the time that is really needed. It expedites action and compliance by simplifying a negotiation over the time that one really needs. Have you ever wanted to take out a stop watch and see how long that “minute” really is? Or, do you respond with, “well, I haven’t got a minute.” What if the other person said “just ten minutes please”, how would you respond to that request?

Sometimes we hear “just a second.” Now that request is really hard to believe. Do you have just a second? What in the world can possibly be done or said in a second? Do you think there is a difference between someone who requests a second and someone who requests a minute? Is this difference due to a personality type or are the “second” requestors just speedier then the “minute” requestors? Which camp do you fall in? Are you a minute or a second requestor? On the other hand, perhaps you simply ask for the time that you need. How many people do you know who really do this? When was the last time you said: “I need fifteen more minutes?”

Would life be easier if we were all more accurate? Of course, what would life be like if we could not spare a minute for someone else? What would the world come to if no one had a second to spare? Are you forever to busy to help others in need?

What is the "monster of time?"

The “Monster of Time” (Daniel 2) refers to a dream that the great Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar once had. He dreamed of a monster with a head of gold, chest of silver, belly of brass, and legs and feet of iron and clay. Nebuchadnezzar wanted to know what this dream meant. His court advisors would not tell him. Many were afraid to do an interpretation since it might mean death for the interpreter if the King did not agree with the interpretation. Daniel successfully interpreted this vision for the king. I say successfully, since Daniel survived and the king was happy. The interpretation followed a sequence of time in which the monster depicted represented the evolution of kingdoms that would supplant Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. The following is the interpretation of the monsters parts:

1.The head of gold – The Babylonian Empire of Nebuchadnezzar.
2.The breast and arms of silver – Persian Empire.
3.The belly and thighs of bronze – Greek Empire.
4.The legs of iron – Roman Empire. This is the kingdom Daniel said would be divided into two parts. The first Roman Empire is represented by the legs of iron. The second part of this kingdom, the revived Roman Empire, is represented by the feet and and toes made part of iron and part of clay.
5.The stone which destroyed all the other kingdoms – the coming kingdom of Jesus Christ.

One can only reflect ruefully that even 6000 years ago, time was a sort of monster. A monster that holds the past, present and future in its gruesome appendages to do with as it chooses.

This metaphor of time as a monster elicited my own vision of a “monster of time.” In my vision, time is a giant alarm clock. It has four hands. In one hand, it holds a scythe to strike your head off if you are late. In a second hand, it holds a set of rules to remind you of your obligations to friends, family and society. In it’s third hand, it holds a coffee and donut, which you will need to start the day. Finally, in its last hand, it holds an “endless” backwards mirror, in which you can see how you looked today when you awoke and how you looked yesterday and the day before and the day before. Of course, age incrementally each day until finally one day there is no vision in the mirror to awake.

Have you ever thought of time as a monster? What would your vision of the “monster of time” look like? There are an endless number of visions for time, see if you can create one that reflects how you live time or perhaps how you would not like to live time.

What destiny are you following that you could change for the better?

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.” (Macbeth, V, v, 19, Shakespeare)

The above passage is perhaps the most famous speech in literature, spoken by Macbeth after learning of his wife’s suicide. Why does this macabre and depressing analysis of life hold so much meaning for us? Is it because, like Macbeth, we sometimes feel a powerlessness and futility to life? What is our “recorded time?” Is this the time we are destined to live? Do you believe the time and date of your death is fixed? Many people call this destiny and believe they are powerless to change or alter their fate.

I think it might be inevitable to believe that we are fixed by fate and that life is controlled by forces and events beyond our power to influence. Nevertheless, we see countless examples of people who have changed the world for the better by denying the concept of predestination and fate. Macbeth brought his own destiny upon him by his greed and avarice. We go through life making choices and these choices decide what we will become. We are more than candles and poor players upon a stage. We may not quite be Nietzsche’s Superman, but we are a great deal more than fools and idiots. We are not all powerful but neither are we powerless.

When I am confused about life, I like to reflect on the Serenity Prayer: “Please help me to know the difference between those things I can change and those things I cannot.” This is an example of pure wisdom. We can change some things and we cannot change others. What will you become if you do not try? What can you change today in your life? What needs to be changed that you have felt powerless to change? What destiny are you following that is painful? Who can you find that could help you change your life? There is always someone out there who can and will help you? Do you need to find that person today?

What are the impacts of quantum change on our lives?

Quantum changes represent breaks in the continuity of time. Linear time measures changes in specific fixed intervals. Quantum change happens when something “jumps”, i.e., it defies our normally ordered thinking about time. Sometimes, these special events are called discontinuities because they represent a break in the normal chain of events. Our lives in this country underwent a quantum change after 911. While we can argue about whether or not the bombings could have been prevented, there is little or no argument that they completely disrupted our life patterns not only in the US, but in other parts of the world. The changes 911 caused in the US had ripple patterns that have affected the entire history of many other nations and cultures.

Quantum changes seem to be unpredictable and can have enormous impacts on our lives. Getting married or divorced might be a quantum change for some people. Death though predictable as to the eventuality is not predictable as to the time and manner. Death can cause quantum changes in the lives of many people connected in some way to the loved one. Even distant connections can be impacted by the death of someone we know or hear about. Witness, how many people were affected by the death of Princess Diana.

Remember the John Donne poem:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

How will your death affect others? Who will be most affected? What long-term changes will your death have on the lives of others in the world?

Who would not want to be wiser and younger?

Chronos in Greek mythology was the god of Time or the god of the ages. When something is arranged “chronologically”, it means it is ordered in time, usually from oldest to most recent. I once heard someone say, it is a shame we are not born backwards. If we were, as we grew older and hopefully wiser, we would also grow younger and healthier. This is an interesting idea but not likely to happen soon. We read every day about a mythical fountain of youth or some magic that will unlock the aging process and we will never grow old. There are researchers looking to find a cure for aging who believe that ageing could be cured as we cure any other disease. Imagine taking a pill or a shot to cure “old” age.

I am not going to hold my breath for any of these aging fixes. Of course, I may just have my body frozen cryogenically so that I can be revived at some time in the future when our health systems have cured whatever disease I die from, including old age. . Or I may just be cremated and have my ashes scattered to the four winds so I can become part of the universe again. I have not decided which path I will take. Then again, my spouse just may see fit to bury me alongside of her. Karen refuses to have me stuffed, which I thought was a good way to keep me around and in memory.

What will become of you when you die? Will you be buried, frozen, cremated or stuffed? How do you want your memory retained by others? Does it matter to you?

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