Saturday, November 5, 2016

Controlling the Time

"Sunset"
- At the Desert Retreat House -

This morning a post on my Facebook page offered a friendly reminder: Don’t forget to change the time before you go to bed tonight and give yourself an extra hour of sleep! 

While I get the gist of what this post was trying to say, I also find it rather humorous to imagine that the earth and the stars will align differently during the night and somehow one more hour will magically appear because human beings pushed a few buttons or turned back the hands of their clocks. 

I’ve been thinking about our semi annual custom of “changing the time” in today’s popular culture and it makes me wonder if, at some level, people actually do believe that they are controlling time by changing their clocks. It seems to me that many people 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 everything they do, they attempt to control the lives of their children spouses or friends, they try to control the weather and at some level even believe that they can control the time by pushing the clock backward during the nighttime hours at this time of year.

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.

For me 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.

The funny thing is that while we all may be able to influence much of what happens in life,  for the most part it is what it is and regardless of what any of us might say or do, most of the time life simply happens, and we have very little control over it.

I can influence an election by the way in which I vote, I can contribute to a climate of compassion by treating others with kindness and I can equip my house with supplies to help me if an earthquake hits here in Southern California, but I can’t control any of it. The light of day doesn’t fade any earlier because I happen to change back the dials on a clock, it just happens. 

I have discovered that I find the deepest peace and greatest happiness when I learn how to enjoy what is rather than foolishly try to make life happen according to the way I want it to be. 

I am reminded of something Eckhart Tolle once said:

Always say yes to the present moment.
What could be more futile than to create inner resistance to what already is?
Say yes to life
and see how life suddenly starts working for you again.

The sun will set earlier tomorrow as darkness overcomes daylight in the approaching winter season,  but this has nothing whatsoever to do with what I do to my clock. It’s just one more opportunity for me to embrace and enjoy the beauty of the starlit sky in the desert nights.

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