Alexandra the Great's Private Papers

September 18, 2007

The Mad Rush of Time

Filed under: Living,Tyranny — Alexandra The Great @ 9:26 pm

Time is the one commodity we seem never to have enough of.  In fact, our lives are sometimes measured by our shortage of it.  How many of us when asked, “How are you doing?” respond with, “Busy!” 

In an age where information is sent around the globe in seconds, work is done mainly by machine, and people routinely travel at speeds undreamed of in other centuries, one would think that we would have an abundance of time for leisure, relationships, and rest.  On the contrary, we are arguably the most enslaved generation of freemen ever to walk the earth.  Our backs are bowed under the tyranny of expectations other generations had not the luxury of facing. 

We work harder and faster to gain more, the obtaining of which pushes us further into debt causing us to stretch even farther and suffer the anxiety caused by overextended finances.  We submit to the many social pressures that at one time would have been viewed as leisure for the wealthy but are now viewed by many as inescapable necessities.  I think of mainly of children’s sports.  Many families commit to sports all year round and devote two to three afternoons a week and every weekend to the pursuit of their child’s participation in this social requirement.  And to think that Caesar only required a pinch of incense….

Apart from the countless (and costly) events we parents are required to sign our kids up for, our lives are also hijacked by our own set of social necessities that require full allegiance in return for acceptance or respectability or a place in “Who’s Who of the Pond,” whatever the agreement was when we pledged our soul to the good cause. 

I just wonder what possesses is to over-extend ourselves so far that the only thing we can say in response to a polite “How are you,” is, “Busy.”  Is it possible to cast off the demands of others and reel in our lives just a little bit?  Perhaps if we could, our answer would transform from “Busy” to “Satisfied.”  Satisfaction, after all, is not offered to us by the mad rush of time, but by the slow enjoyment of things worthwhile, by a job well done, and by the investment of ourselves in relationships with others and with God. 

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August 16, 2007

The Tyranny of the Imaginary

Filed under: Tyranny — Alexandra The Great @ 12:19 am

I organize ladies retreats for my church.  I also lead the occasional Bible study and help with teas.  All these activities can be lumped together into the same category and labeled, Women’s Ministry.  All is well with that except for the fact that I am relationally handicapped, but that can be the subject of another post. 

Just this evening I was informed that one particular lady, who I was counting on being present at our upcoming retreat, was not going to be present.  I did not have the opportunity to learn more than this bare fact at the time, so I filled in all the empty spaces with details of my own.  Now, imagination is a good thing, but its evil twin sister, unrestrained imagination, is a bad thing.  It is unfortunately characteristic of human beings that when our imaginations usurp the reign of reason, they do so not to strengthen and encourage, but to tyrannize and discourage.

My imagination filled in the blanks with all sorts of possibilities as to why my friend would not be joining us.  I was searching my memory for possible sins of commission and omission, thinking that surely I had caused some great offense.  I was entirely prepared to lose an entire nights sleep fretting about what I might have done or failed to do when I learned the reason for her expected absence.   

Unsurprisingly, the facts were entirely unrelated to the fiction of my imagination.  I had been tyrannized once again by unruly and treacherous thoughts.  I had invented something to fret over and that thing had taken the place of truth.  There is nothing new under the sun and I am not unique.  How like the rest of mankind I am.  Every decade has its tyrannical fear.  Every year sees its own seizing anxiety.  If the end of the world will not result from nuclear weapons as we feared during the cold war, then it will from biological weapons that will undoubtedly be used against us by American-hating terrorists.  In recent years we have made much effort to worry about the West-Nile virus, the bird flu, mad cow disease and even cow emissions.  But all these are mere anxieties compared to our fear of fears: global warming. 

We do, in reality, live in a world of very many dangers; but like my earlier subjection to the tyranny of the imagination, we spend our energies fearing the wrong things. What man ought to be concerned about is not drinking organic, chemical free coffee; he ought to be concerned about eternity.  “Is there a God?” is a bigger question than “Paper or plastic?” “Will there be a judgment?” is weightier than the problem of landfills.  Eternal matters are the realities we must face even if our imaginary fears come to pass.

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