peace in the desert
When our boys were growing up, one of our favorite family activities was to play the board game, Monopoly, together. We would sit around for hours and play - negotiating the buying of houses and hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place, "going to jail," "getting out of jail free." There were times when the game became quite intense. I even remember stopping the game when it got too late and then returning to where we left off the next day. It was a great way to spend time with one another.
A few days ago I read that, in order to accommodate modern-day tastes, Hasbro (the company that produces Monopoly) has redesigned the game. You can now play Monopoly in 30 minutes or less. That's right, start to finish, and you're done in less than half an hour.
Parents and kids said that they wanted a "quick in-and-out frictionless game experience." Get the family time in with no conflict; and get the game over with, then everyone scatters out into the everyday hectic world to attend to the many other things that need to get done.
As I see it, the new Monopoly game provides a very telling "icon" of the way most people live their lives today. Life is a series of tasks that need to be accomplished as quickly and as efficiently as possible, with the least amount of conflict as possible, and just enough interaction to get by. Check off one task, and then it's on to the next.
Get up in the morning, get breakfast done so you can read the emails and plan the day, maybe say a prayer or spend some time on the yoga mat. Then it's off to work or school or to the store or maybe to an hour of church on Sunday. Get that done so you can get back home, and get supper ready. Get that over with, so you can watch TV, then maybe get to some more emails and browse the web. Get that over with and go to bed. Do your best to make it all quick, easy and frictionless.
Life is like a 30-minute Monopoly game; and I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
Living in the desert I find myself doing very little task accomplishment or destination planning. The desert is a place of still silence. It is a place conducive to the practice of mindfulness, encouraging me to place my focus on here and now. When I just sit in and with the present, when I allow myself to be available to each "moment," great revelations spring up within me: an awareness of myself connected to you and God.
There is a story about a young desert monk who sought out the advice and wisdom of an older monk. The young monk was eager to learn more, to grow closer to God, to be a better and more productive person. The young monk wondered what tasks he needed to accomplish in order to do this. Should he pray more, meditate more often, read the scriptures more regularly, fast more severely? What must he do?
Upon hearing the young monk's urgent request, the older monk simply replied:
Go sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.
Be where you are. Sit in the moment. Be available to the present - and you will find all you need and want and desire all bubbling up within you.
You can't do this when life is a "30-minute Monopoly" game.
By the way, you can also now play Scrabble Flash. The game can be completed in 2 minutes and 30 seconds.