Saturday, March 10, 2018

Changing the Clocks

- my meditation garden -

As I browsed through the social media today, I noticed several references to the “spring forward” time change that will happen tonight. I smiled to myself at one particular notice that warned: “Remember to change the time tonight, don’t arrive late for church tomorrow.”

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 “change the flow of time” during the hours of the night. I humorously imagined that somehow we will mystically “stash away” an hour in some sort of cosmic box or bottle to be kept there for the next few months until we add it back next November.

Obviously the “time change” is nothing more than recalibrating how we will mark the flow of time over the next few months (and to be honest I wish we didn’t have to participate in this annoying semi-annual ritual); but at some level I think people do somewhat imagine that we actually do control time 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 may 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.

I once came across this wise observation in a magazine of Buddhist essays:

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, our 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 the clocks, but because this is how the universe so wonderfully flows.  

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

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’
Tonight as we turn the clocks ahead by an hour I will again try to appreciate the importance of “now” and to embrace whatever happens in life, trusting that come what may, all is well.

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