Friday, April 8, 2005

What's time got to do with it?

Endless Conversation by Tony Evans

Tony Evans

Someone in a hurry once said that "time is money." Well it isn't. Yet time might be the single best thing that money can buy. Time to think and to consider.

The way we use our spare moments is a good measure for separating the decadent among us from the merely extravagant. After all, extravagance went out of fashion about the time of the French Revolution. Sure, there was fighting in the streets, but the cool people were hanging out in cafés eating cake and writing poetry.

Good old-fashioned opulence took a dive much earlier during the reign of the Mogul emperors and has never quite recovered. About this time a bored Indian prince by the name of Siddhartha wandered out of the palace, started hanging out with the wrong crowd, and forever changed the world.

Extravagance needs an audience. Decadence is exquisite rebellion.

You don't have to be a good Buddhist to know what Siddhartha was up to. You only have to sit still somewhere for a few minutes doing nothing to find out what he was up against. Sitting and breathing might have led the Buddha to enlightenment, but in 21st century America it flies like sand into the eyes of the Protestant Work Ethic. The great engine of free market capitalism didn't get where it's going on the backs of layabouts and idlers like the Buddha, Thic Nhat Han, and Winnie the Pooh. Come to think of it, where is it going? Oh, nevermind.... Back to work!

There will always be more to do and meditating on the present moment may at times seem highly over-rated, but in a very real sense it's all we've got; standing in line at the grocery store, or standing in line at the airport. Washing the dishes, reading a book, or playing in the yard. It's all just life. And ain't life grand? Every moment begs for fullness and might resonate with all of creation. The ecstatic and the mundane co-exist in every moment. And perhaps a great deal more.

It's hard to measure things like ideas and emotions. Yet they direct the traffic of our lives whether it's on a crowded freeway or a country road. When we forget what life is all about, we lose perspective and ... come to think of it, what is life all about?

William Blake had some idea when he wrote:

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour."

Perhaps he would agree that the greatest luxury in life is to not be in a hurry.

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