A New Year or another False Start?

Out with the old and in with the new! New Years! The end of our past and the beginning of our future! All over the world, we count down the minutes and then seconds until a New Year begins. A New Year represents a finish and a time to put failures and bad dreams behind us. New Years day is a new beginning. We pray and hope that each year will be better than the last. Curiously, we celebrate this ending with a night of wild parties and much drinking.

Do you ever wonder why so many people get drunk on New Years Eve? Is it simply to forget the past or is it to celebrate the past? How many New Years days have been ruined before they even got started? Tonight we drink, tomorrow we make promises about how different our lives will be and what changes we will make. Each New Year is a time of magic. It is a time of possibilities. We think it will mean great differences in our lives, but how long do these commitments usually last? Go to the health clubs on New Years day and the parking lots will be full. By early March, the parking lots will be back to their normal contingent of cars. The landscape will be littered with failed promises and failed New Years resolutions. Some may think that they can escape this debacle by simply not making any resolutions. Instead their failures simply remain with them day after day because they were afraid to even start.

Thankfully, we have 365 chances each year to start our life anew. You don’t have to wait until New Years day to begin. Every tomorrow is a new beginning. The only failure in life is to give up. Each time you fall down and get up again you are a success. Each day that you make a new commitment to try, you are a success. Each time your commitment lasts a little bit longer than the last time you are a success.

You have two more days until the New Year of 2012. What are you going to do with your life? What issues, goals, problems, tasks, challenges or quests should you spend more time on? Who do you need to spend more time with? Who do you need to ask forgiveness of? Who do you need to forgive? What do you need to let go of? Sharing our lives with others is the greatest success of all. Good Luck and happiness in the New Year.

Becoming a Master of Time

The Master of Time – A Time Master is someone for whom Time is no longer in control of their lives. They have taken control of time. A true Time Master can jump forward and back in time as they wished or simply choose to live in the present. I have presented many different perspectives on time over the past year. After looking at time from these perspectives have you come to any realization about what time means to you and about how you can control your own time? Is time under your control? Is time simply in your mind? Is time an independent external phenomenon?

I believe the answer is yes to each of the above questions. Time is a manifestation of our mind’s ideas about the world, space, matter and motion. What we see as the movement of time around us exists in physical space as changes in the world, changes in nature and changes in our bodies. The thoughts in our heads are reflected on these changes like the shadows in Plato’s cave. We see and understand time as a set of reflections that are echoed by the beliefs we have about these changes. For example, my hair starts to turn gray and I say I am getting “older” and perhaps “wiser.” The leaves turn and I say it is “autumn” when it becomes time for “Halloween and Thanksgiving.” New technology replaces the old and I say it is “progress.” The changes keep on happening and I apply society’s labels to these changes. My own ideas are married to the ideas in our culture about time and thus reflect tradition as well as learned beliefs about the meaning of these changes.

Control the ideas you have about time and you control time. You cannot stop the changes but look at the changes without the labels and what do you see? Can you look at the changes without applying labels and ideas about time? Perhaps not, but if you can look more objectively at these changes, then my musings may help you to see time somewhat differently. The promise to become a “Master of Time” is still a challenge that you face.

The way to master time is to master your thoughts. Change your thinking and you can change time whenever you want to. Are you getting older or simply more wrinkled? Is life moving faster and faster or is it the transportation by which we get around which propels us faster and faster? Do children age faster or do they simply change in ways that are new to our generation? Is the world better today or worse than 100 years ago? The answers to these questions will depend on your beliefs about time. Have you learned to think about time differently? Have you become a “Master of Time?” Do you want to have another year of my blogs on Time?

The End of Time or the End of the World?

Are we getting close to the “end of time” or just the end of the year? Have you ever really thought about when time would end? The Mayan Calendar says it will end next year on December 21, 2012. I guess many can be glad that they will be able to celebrate 12-12-12 before the end of the world. Will time end when the world and the universe end? Or maybe time will just quit, like a watch that stops running.

Some religions believe that time ends on judgment day. Do you think that there are any clocks in heaven? What about hell? Does the devil track time for us? What about Purgatory? “Purgatory (Lat., “purgare”, to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12575a.htm ). The Catholic Church teaches that we need to spend time in Purgatory for certain offenses. Since the punishment is temporal and not eternal, do you suppose they have clocks in Purgatory? Who do you suppose winds them up? Can you imagine spending 500 years in Purgatory and watching the clock until you are released?

Perhaps, time will wear out when people get tired of keeping time. We have explored hundreds of ways to think about time in my blogs this past year. People have been thinking about time since the first human beings walked the earth. Time seems to be part of the human psyche. If humans did not have time, they would certainly have created it. It is hard to imagine anyplace where we would not mark time. I notice I can always find new ideas about time to keep adding to my blogs. I have a whole list of subjects that I am working on for future blogs, of course, that assumes I make it past 12-21-2012. But if I go to heaven, can I keep my blog going up there?

Heaven qualifies as one place though where there would seem to be no reason to mark time. Why keep track of time when everything is eternal and unchanging? Heaven must be a place where there are no goals, no accomplishments, no meetings, no places to get to, no tasks to complete, no projects due, no emails to answer and no shortage of time. If any of these things existed in heaven, then we would need to track time. So what do we do in heaven? We all seem to want to get there, but what do we do with our “time” when we are there? I guess we just play all day since play does not require us to track time. Play is by definition “timeless.”

Can you think of anything else that does not require us to mark time? Perhaps if we could just play all day, then time would end. Would little children invent time? Children do not seem to worry about time as much as adults. What if we played more and worked less? Could we cut time down some? Do we “end time” when it is just play time? As adults we become more and more fixed on the idea of time and the limitations that time places on our lives. Our goal orientation makes time a reality for us.

Maybe we should create a “holiday” each year where time stops. A day when you do not have to keep track of time or when time does not matter. It is difficult to think of living a single day when we are not keeping track of time. I guess you will just have to wait until you get to heaven for time to stop. Do you suppose anyone wears watches in heaven? When was the last time, you were able to forget about time? How long did it last? What does it take for you to forget about time?

Making up for lost time?

Making up for lost time can be bittersweet. I have a daughter who has not talked to me for many years now. I think of the time that has gone by and how we could have spent it together doing things we could never afford to do when she was younger. I think of how as adults we could and should have become good friends with talks by the fireplace and walking in the woods. She is over forty now and I am past 60 and the clock keeps ticking and ticking. I think of the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years that keep moving on by, each moment lost forever to us as this blanket of silence shrouds our lives. Time lost forever, or can it be made up? What if she suddenly decided that she wanted to have a relationship with me? Could we make up the lost time? If we started today to try to get to know each other; imagine the events that have changed our lives, the places we have been to, the books we have read, the movies we have seen, the funerals and weddings we have been to, the jobs and careers we have changed, the children grandchildren we have helped raise. So much that has changed each of us.

Difficult to imagine making up lost time, nevertheless, few of us would not try if given the opportunity. It is a bittersweet opportunity because we may feel joy at the opportunity but also anger at the waste of time that could and should have been prevented. It might be water under the dam, but it will always seem like a waste. I have known brothers and sisters, parents and siblings and former friends who did not talk to each other for over fifty years. Unfortunately, some of them died and so did any possibility to make up for lost time. There are no guarantees in life and if you choose to waste time or lose time, perhaps you will never be able to make it up. It might be too late when you finally realize your mistake and ask yourself WHY? You will be left with regrets about what might or could or should have been.

Perhaps you have no control over your lost time. Time spent in jail, time spent recovering from an accident, and time spent in a relationship that was wrong may all constitute lost time. Lost time is time away from life that could have been lived much differently. It is time that could have been spent more productively and happily. Can this time be made up? Better to not lose it in the first place. But if you have lost it, then do your best to get on with you life. Live each day the best you can. As they say with money, don’t throw good money after bad. Do not throw good time after bad. The lost time is over and you have the rest of your life to live. If you can live each day the best you can, you will be able to put the lost time behind you and perhaps even forget it someday. Then again, maybe the time that was lost was a lesson and you needed to hear the message it was sending. A good friend of mine was fond of saying: “There are no mistakes in life only lessons to be learned.” I think of this comment often. It is a good lesson to remember.

Do you have any lost time to make up? Are you currently losing time that you should not be losing? Have you thought about how you can stop losing this time? What can you do today to make it

Did god make enough time?

An old Celtic Saying goes: “When God made time, he made enough of it.” How could this be? How could there ever be enough time? Most of us are fond of declaring that we have “no time” or that we are “too busy.” The song “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce has the following lyrics:

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them.

We are always running short of time, running out of time, not having enough time, having to makeup time, having to catch up, running late, etc., etc. “No Time, No Time” has become the mantra of the 21st century. How could God have made enough time? We never ever have enough. What could the Celts have been thinking?

Well, what if the Celts were right? What if there is enough time? What if all of our running around and frantic efforts to save time are like trying to stop the wind or push the tide back into the ocean? Imagine, someone with a bucket on the beach trying to shovel all of the water back into the ocean before it can creep up on the beach. What if we are doing the same thing with time? What if all of our efforts to save time simply are wasting our lives? What if we lived one day at a time and one moment at a time each day? What if we could ignore time and believe that “God made enough of it.”

Repeat the following thought to yourself: “Today, tomorrow and next week, there will be enough time.” You will always have enough time. You will have no more time shortages. No more running out of time. There will always be enough time to do what you need to do. If you truly believed this, what difference would it make in your life? What would you do different today if you knew you would always have enough time? How would your life change if you always had enough time?

My post for Christmas, for Athiests and Christians alike.

Christmas Time is the celebration by Christians of the birth of Jesus Christ. He was born in a manger to Joseph and Mary. Christians celebrate December 25th as the birth of a man whom they claim to be the son of God. Other religions would disagree that he was a God, but none would disagree that he was a great prophet. His message was simple: love everyone: sinner, enemy, friend and family alike. The Christmas season today has become associated with gift giving, family traditions, Santa Claus, Christmas stories, Christmas trees, burning candles, holiday lights and the holiday shopping season. Christmas is said to be a time for children, who tend to be the recipients of the most gifts and toys. We all enjoy seeing the expression on the faces of little children as they unwrap a special gift with pretty wrapping paper and ribbons and bows. During the Christmas season, many spend a great deal of time trying to find the right gifts for their older friends and loved ones as well.

Some people feel that Christmas Time has become too contaminated by the incessant advertisings and commercialism that litter the holiday season. Shopping used to start after Thanksgiving; it now starts after Halloween, a full month earlier. Indeed, it is easy amid the hustle and bustle to lose sight of the main reason to celebrate this season. A great prophet or God himself, Jesus Christ brought a message of love and peace to the world. It is ironic that during times of war and strife many people preaching his message have been sarcastically labeled as peaceniks, doves and war protestors. These labels are applied as though peace and love for other human beings was a bad thing. If Jesus were alive today, would he be a peace protestor, a wall street occupier or would he be a war supporter? Would Jesus be in the frontline of the anti-war movements or would he be Pro-War? Would Jesus be a dove or a hawk?

If you celebrate Christmas, how much time do you put aside to celebrate the message of Love and Peace that Jesus brought to the world? Is Christmas Time for you a celebration of the Peace Message or do you support a War Message? Do you work for peace or do you work for violence? Does your belief in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness extend to all human beings or just those of your own religion and nationality? This Christmas Time, will you spend as much of your energy on peace and love as you do shopping and putting up your Christmas tree and household decorations? How will you extend the message of peace and love to others in the world this Christmas Time?

Racing against time or racing the clock. Is there any difference? Time is short, you are running late and you just found out about a deadline to meet: A play to catch, a movie to watch, a party to go to, or some other event and you have to move fast to make it. Time is critical; you can not waste a second. You must do only what is called for and in the most efficient order possible. Can you do it? You don’t know but you will sure try. You are racing against the clock. Did you ever watch that TV show, where they were given a grocery cart and they had one minute to fill it with as much stuff as they could? I think it was called “Beat the Clock.” The contestants raced like crazy to try and put as much of the “high” value items as they could in the shopping cart. Forget the pickles, get the steaks in!

How often do we run like there is no tomorrow only to find it did not make a bit of difference? The play was cancelled. The party was called off. You were the only one there. They changed the date and did not tell you. Something came up at the last minute. Who cares about your time? There was really no race. You were racing yourself. You were the only contestant in the event. Did you think you were so important that your presence would be missed? Was the race really important?

Each day, you probably spend some of your time racing against the clock. When you are racing against the clock, are you spending your precious time on the “high” value things of life? Are you going for the steaks? Or are you simply running like a rat in a wheel and going nowhere fast. Where did you get to? What prize did you win? When was the last time you raced the clock? Did you beat the clock or did the clock beat you? How much of life do you spend racing time? Is it worth the prize?

Sorry if I am late posting today. We headed down to Mexico for the Holidays and will be here for a week. I did not have Internet access yesterday but am back on line today. We checked into this wonderful hotel in San Carlos and there is great internet access. I will post tomorrow for the Christmas Holiday and then sign off until Monday, if you celebrate Christmas, I wish you a very Happy Holiday and if you do not, then have a wonderful day and a great weekend. John

Are you living on borrowed time?

Borrowed time – We have all heard the expression “you are living on borrowed time.” Of course, this means to go on living after the time you should have died. The phrase goes back to the seventeenth century (see http://www.phrases.org.uk). My sister was given several weeks to live after being diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. She went on to live five more years and even survived one round of hospice care to live a few more years after that. She just did not want to die. She lived many happy if not healthy years on borrowed time. I often wondered who she paid this time back to and who she actually borrowed it from.

I think if you live life like there will be no tomorrow you are living on borrowed time. We all know people who disproportionately flaunt the risks of life. People who drink and drive are living on borrowed time. People who ride motorcycles without wearing a helmet are living on borrowed time. People who do not exercise or watch their weight are living on borrowed time. People who smoke are living on borrowed time. Each day you take unnecessary risks, you are living on borrowed time. You may cheat death each day, but it is also a day that you owe to someone and you will eventually be called upon to pay. The actuaries are betting millions that you will die when they say you will and people living on borrowed time generally pay up when due.

Are you one of the people living on borrowed time? What is the cost you pay for living on borrowed time? Who do you borrow this time from? Who do you pay it back to? When do you think they will come to collect? I think you borrow it from those who love and those who care for you. They would rather have you than the money.

Do you have what it takes to live to 100?

The oldest person in the world! This is a title that takes years to earn and once you earn it, you probably will not hold it very long. Last week, the oldest living person in the world was Besse Berry Cooper, a 115-year-old great-great-grandmother from Tennessee. The chance to earn the “oldest living person” in the world designation is slim for most of us. However, recent studies report that the odds of living past 100 are growing. The US Department of Census projects that there could be over four million Americans reaching age 100 or more by 2050. Super Centenarians are those people who live to over 110 years of age. A study by Robin and Vaupel (2001) shows that in the world as a whole, the number of validated super-centenarians for whom adequate documentation is available is increasing. Other evidence also points to a world-wide increase in lifespan, thus making the age of 100 increasingly more likely for many of us.

Have you ever thought of what it would be like to live to 100 or more? You would have set foot in two centuries during one lifetime. You would have lived in five generations and possibly be a great great or greater grandparent. If you had been born in the year 1900 and had lived past the year 2000, you would have lived through the horse and buggy era and now be living in the age of rockets and space travel. You would have lived in a time when there were no TV’s, cell phones, radios, computers or Internet and now be living in a time when all of these are common. What if you were born in 2000 and live to be 100? You would make it to the 22nd century. If we accept that we will make as much or more progress in the next 100 years as we have in the last, what changes do you think you would see? It is hard to imagine the same degrees of changes taking place between 2000 and 2100 as between 1900 and 2000 and yet it is inevitable. Furthermore, the changes will probably dwarf those of the past century. What do you have to do to live to 100? Studies seem to point to the following common factors among centenarians:

• Continuing to play a role in society
• Keeping in good physical shape
• Taking preventive measures against serious disease
• Looking on the bright side of life
• Being intellectually stimulated
• Believing that happiness can be achieved
• Having financial security
• Having a good life expectation
• Maintaining satisfactory social relationships

(Quality of life and longevity: a study of centenarians, Mariosa Dello Buono, Ornella Urciuou, Diego De Leo in Age and Ageing 1998; 27: 207-216)

Well, looking at this list, do you have what it takes? Will you live to 100 years of age? Do you think you might even obtain the oldest person in the world title? What would have to change in your life for you to be in the running? Which of the above factors do you need to work on? Would you like to live to 100 if you could be healthy and happy to that age?

Is this the worst of times or the best of times? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” This is the opening sentence of A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. He was referring to the time of the French Revolution. It is perhaps the most famous line in all of literature. Why? Not because we relate to the French Revolution, but because we can all relate to the sentiment. How many days in your life have you felt it was the best of times, but also the worst? We would probably all be rich if we had a dollar for each day or each time we felt this way. Life brings us many ups and downs. Life is seldom all joy and happiness. In one day, in one hour, many of us can go from high to low. A brief moment can bring us news that will make us supremely happy or thoroughly sad. Death and destruction come at inopportune times. We can not plan them or control them. Happiness can be equally whimsical. One minute we can feel elated over some momentary triumph and the next minute we are dejected because it was not greater.

We have all had many days that were the best of times and the worst of times. Each day of our lives that we awake healthy can start out to be the best of times. By the end of some days, it has become the worst of times. We may end the day feeling totally used up and wondering if there is not more to life. The pressures and tribulations of the day have beaten our spirits down. By bedtime, we are ready for the oblivion of sleep. Happy only for a good nights rest that will help restore our mind and body, but mostly our willpower to face the next day. We hope to awake refreshed and ready to believe again that today will be the best of times and not the worst of times.

Can you get up today and face live with optimism and not defeat? Do you get up each day and look forward to the challenges that the day will bring? Have you been able to grow older but remain optimistic about life? Do you fully expect that there will be much pain but also great happiness in your life? Is today the best of times or the worst of times for you?

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