Saturday, August 6, 2011

Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)

The Byrds hit song (withe lyrics of biblical origin, of course) resonates through my mind today.  Just over 2 weeks ago I was climbing, travelling and visiting friends and family.  This week, the tables turned when Annie received the dreaded yet long anticipated phone call that her mother had died.  This entire week has been full of deep sorrow and reflection as the family gathered to take care of the necessary details, offer comfort to their father and each other.  Tears, laughter and at times silence filled the surrounding air.

But I am not writing to deliberate the detailed emotions and circumstances of the death of a loved one.  Instead, I am considering the impact this has on our psyche. "Life is short" folks often proclaim.  Life is indeed both fragile and finite.  And when someone who we have known for a long time is suddenly gone from our life, we cannot help but contemplate our own fragility and consider what is most meaningful and significant in the "big picture."

I also cannot figure out what has happened to the speed of time.  It seems to me (and most all others I commiserate with) that our lives are more full and busy than ever before, leaving us little to no time to really LIVE and experience the things most important to us.  Most of us have to work - okay that takes up 8 hours a day (plus commuting). We need to eat (add 1.5 hours on a generous day). We need to sleep (add 8 hours, less if you think you can still be rested and healthy on less sleep). We need to clean up after ourselves (dishes, house clean, etc. Add 1 hour and that's conservative).  Then we need to attend to the regular minutiae such as bathing/showering, personal hygiene, garbage collection, recycling, grass cutting or snow shoveling, etc, etc. (add 1.5 hours, again conservative).  Add today's more modern tasks of handling finances, checking and responding to email, and phone calls and you now are up to well over 22 hours per day.  In a "perfect" world,  might we have 1 to 2 hours of time remaining to (get ready for the next word) RELAX? Read a book? Take a nap? Go for a walk? Sit quietly? Hold on - what about daily exercise?! I didn't even count that in the daily minutiae (which it is not!).  So what ARE we left with?

During my travel and climbing adventures, my days became quite delightfully distilled.  A typical climbing day was comprised of waking up, stretching and warming up the body and/or mind for the day, eating some breakfast, packing the climbing gear, approaching and climbing the rock faces, descending, returning to camp, relaxing with a cold brew and contemplating the climbing, making and eating some dinner, then off to bed.  OK, to be fair there are a few additional minutiae omitted such as washing up and personal hygiene.  But note what is missing from the list: work - housecleaning - handling finances, phone calls and email - home chores - commuting.  One could argue some similarities between the "real life" list and this list - you could liken the climbing approach to commuting"or could legitimately claim that phone calls and emails are still handled if you carry a mobile device.  But I can guarantee you on my trip I did not participate in these activities every single day and while some days were more filled with activity than others, it was simplicity that ruled the agenda, not complexity.

So how do we get back to this today? What really is important?  Do you have a faith-based system to guide you and if not, how do you resolve it all?  I am still trying to figure this all out and while I know there is no silver bullet, I do run across many people who seem to have it under control.  I am seeking strategies and secrets to simplify life and stay focused on what really matters most.  In the meantime, I hope to get back to some sense of normalcy soon, which of course includes climbing.  And when I get the TIME, I will retro-post photos and stories of the trip.  "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."

1 comment:

  1. Great post Jean! This topic is very important to me. In our particular line of work we battle forces which complicate everything. Our daily tasks are often little more than untangling this mess. Knowing that the current mess will soon be replaced by an even larger and worse mess is not at all reassuring. What do we do?

    One thing I do, and this is a personal quirk that has driven you crazy in the past, is to operationally realize that it's impossible to "resolve it all". If you like, think of that as "the resolution". In other words: A problem without a solution is not really a problem. Probably not the sort of help you had in mind, huh?

    To echo your biblical reference, I think a little faith is required each day. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:34