Thursday, July 23, 2015


     Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books ever. In it, Solomon—one of history's wealthiest, wisest, and most successful and powerful rulers—laments the senselessness of life, mainly due to its brevity and the inconsequentiality of achievement compared to vast eternity, fore and aft. This comforts me, for if life is indeed a wisp and we're all racing for our graves and before we know it we'll be on our deathbeds wondering, “Where did all the time go?”, then this simplifies matters—no need to worry about any silly worldly nonsense, just focus on God today and obey him and his higher purpose to help others.
     Though I fail miserably at this at times and waste abhorrent amounts of time and effort, even Solomon stressed the importance of eating, drinking and enjoying life and work, so it's not as if all frivolity is bad.
     Upon graduating high school three years hence, Braden will (most probably) be leaving us to attend college or join the military—a lot depends on his academics both in regards to grades and attitude, but also on his behavior—getting his act together overall. He's progressed miles over the past several months but still has a ways to go... Until then, time will flit by in an instant. I look forward to his leaving—his growing independence, even while knowing I'll miss him terribly.
     My mom (in her eighties) has started to complain of the speediness of time and her desire to slow it down by not having too many interactions with outer-island relatives all in a row. “Spread them out!” she says, “Otherwise the weeks just fly by...”
     Andy Rooney once said that it doesn't seem fair that in the midst of fun and joy, time speeds up, whereas in the midst of boredom, misery, or sorrow, it slows to a crawl.
     John Steinbeck in East of Eden posited otherwise, saying that in the midst of unchanging sameness, decades can slip by unnoticed, whereas in the midst of change and variety, time slows because each event represents a signpost or landmark against which progress is marked and measured.
     I see their points but time to me as a parent always speeds by and I can't believe how much taller and larger the kids are now compared to just five years ago and am astonished whenever I look at such not-so-distant photos that happen to be posted in our kitchen by the phone.
     More relevant to me than the speed of time, however, is my tendency to live in, or more accuracy, get preoccupied with the future, even though it's impossible to live anywhere but in the present. So to counteract this sometimes unproductive tendency, I try to seize opportunities to make the most of the present while the kids are still around.
     On the Fourth of July weekend I took Jaren (Braden, and Pene rode and met us there on their bikes) to the nearby elementary school to ride bike, play croquette and mini putt-putt, play on the playground, and shag a practice golf ball. I brought along my sand wedge and putter, the only clubs I saved from an old set that I gave away long ago.
     Rainy weeknights after dinner when we can't go for walks, we've played Scrabble using Deanne's egg timer with one minute allowed per person per turn—speeds things up and makes it more fun.
     One recent weekend afternoon we hand washed and scrubbed our family car, a twice yearly activity since we're not car enthusiasts.
     On a day I took off from work to recuperate from a church overnight outing, the morning and early afternoon the kids were out at Summer Fun seemed to drag interminable. So partly to kill time, I cleaned a restroom, polished a pair of shoes, paid bills, cleaned a few dirty shelves in the refrigerator, vacuumed floors, and later cut my hair. It was a blessed relief to finally pick them up at the park and hear how their days went.
     In the midst of my sister's wedding, my mom fretted about some irrelevancy—this just before the ceremony proper began, so I told her (we were alone at the time) “Try to enjoy it while it lasts.” She settled after that and seemed to enjoy herself better.
     I suppose I should take my own advice by more often enjoying the here and now while it lasts, for like my sister's wedding twenty years ago, it will soon be over before I even realize it.  

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