Saturday, November 4, 2017

Change the Time

"The Approach of Winter" 
- Sunset at the Desert Retreat House - 

This morning several posts on my Facebook page offered friendly reminders about the "time change” that will happen late tonight. I found one reminder to be particularly amusing: “Don’t forget to change the time before you go to bed tonight and give yourself an extra hour of sleep, otherwise you’ll be early for church tomorrow.”

While I got the gist of what this post was trying to say, I also found this admonition to “change the time” to be rather humorous. Imagine it, the earth and the stars will align differently during the night, the sun will rise an hour earlier and somehow one more hour will magically appear because human beings will "change the time" by pushing a few buttons or turning 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 deeper level, people actually do believe that they are controlling time by changing their clocks?  I say this because, as I see it, many people fool themselves into thinking that we can control almost everything in life 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 they believe that they can even control the time by pushing their clocks backward 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 some 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 the environment by recycling, I can help make the world more just and compassionate 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.

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.

According to my clock, it will get darker an hour earlier on Sunday, winter is approaching - just one more opportunity for me to embrace and enjoy the beauty of the starlit sky in the desert nights.

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