Sunday, March 13, 2016

Controlling Time

"A Moment in Time"
- along a wilderness trail -

I almost laughed out loud at a little reminder in our local newspaper this morning: “Remember that we changed the time last night, so don’t arrive late for church.”

While I got the gist of what this helpful hint was saying, I also found it very humorous to imagine that the earth and the stars will align differently and the sun will set at a different time because human beings decided to control the flow of time last night. I humorously imagined that last night we stashed away an hour of time in some sort of cosmic box to be kept there for the next few months until we add it back next November.

Obviously all we did was set our clocks ahead and pretended that it was an hour later (and to be honest I wish we didn’t have to participate in this somewhat annoying semi-annual ritual); but at some level I think people do somewhat imagine that we actually were able to control time last night by changing our clocks.

For me, the idea of controlling time points to a fairly prevalent underlying assumption in today’s popular culture – many people often fool themselves into thinking that we can control almost everything when in truth we can control almost nothing.

At it’s core, the desire to control is essentially “narcissistic” – it stems directly from the machinations of an unchecked ego. People often orchestrate the events of their lives because they want the world to operate according to their own designated agenda; and so they carefully plan and strategize. They attempt to control the lives of their children, spouses or friends, they try to control the weather, and at some level they even believe that they control the time by pushing the clock ahead by an hour.

A few day’s ago, while reading a magazine of Buddhist essays, I came across this wise observation about our human propensity to “control” our lives:

We try to control things because we are afraid of what will happen if we don’t.

I think this “hits the nail on the head.”  My guess is that, for the most part, the need to control stems from a deep-rooted fear that something bad may happen to “me” if I don’t somehow orchestrate what happens in my life or that nothing good can ever happen unless I do something to make it happen.

The funny thing is that for the most part it is what it is and regardless of what any of us might say or do, most of the time our life simply happens, and we have very little control over it. I can (and do) equip my house with survival supplies to help if an earthquake hits here in Southern California, but I can’t control an earthquake from happening - it is what it is. And the light of day does indeed grow longer and longer at this time of year, not because we change our clock, but because this is how the universe so wonderfully flows.  

It is what it is and I think we find that deeper peace and greater happiness when we learn how to enjoy what is rather than foolishly try to control it.

I am reminded of something Eckhart Tolle once said:

Time isn’t precious, because time is an illusion,
What we perceive as precious is not ‘time,’
 but one point that is ‘out of time:’ the Now.
The more we are focused on time, the more we miss the Now.
Most of us are not fully present in the Now because unconsciously
we are either living in the past or thinking about the future,
believing that the next moment must be more important than this one.
But then we miss our whole life
which is never ‘not now’

On this day when we have turned our clocks ahead by an hour I devote myself to appreciate again the importance of “now” and to embrace whatever happens in life, trusting that come what may, all is well.

1 comment:

  1. I too have been pondering on this idea that we think we can control things. For me this comes up as planning. Planning too much really, so that there is too little light shining in between all these planned activities. Too much forward thinking that takes me away from right now. And it is because I'm afraid of what may show up instead. So I'm trying now to notice when I plan, to plan less, and to hold any plans lightly. A kind of giving myself up to the moment and trusting that it will be OK. xxx