Where Does Our Time Go?
On my way home from work one day I decided to take a route around traffic. I was in a area of town that is known for it's wealth and my path took me through a neighborhood with very large homes lining both sides of the street. The road was only wide enough for two cars to pass, there were no sidewalks and the homes were sat back off the road on very large lots.
As I made my way, I wondered why we feel the need to possess items that are far beyond our needs. The necessities of each day are food, water, clothing, and shelter with the latter two varying, in amount and quality required, by where you live. However there is a part of the human condition that leads us to believe that more is better. So we raise our family of four in buildings that are large enough for twenty and call it a home and we buy expensive cars that offer little more than the lesser versions and we use them very little.
The first place we call our own is affordable which usually translates to small. Of course we do not mind because we are young and to busy to be bothered with cleaning and upkeep. Somewhere along the line we become discontent with our situation due to feeling cramped or just looking for a change. So we are off looking at new places and bigger enters the picture. These bigger places allow us to collect more stuff and eventually the process repeats itself.
Our first car is also affordable which usually translates to needing more work than we have money, but it runs. This gets us to where we need to go but eventually, usually due to safety or reliability, we replace it with a newer model. This continues until we decide to purchase a vehicle that has more features than we use. So our ride from point A to point B becomes more than simply transportation and transforms into a statement.
This scenario can happen with anything. It can also become normal for us to start at the higher end instead of starting off small. There are reasons to have the best. For example if you are carpenter, paying more for better quality tools is a wise investment. I do not begrudge anyone legally earning as much money as they can and spending it on what they see fit. It is not a sin to have a big house, a large piece of land, expensive clothes, or a lot of toys. However these things can distract us from what is going on around us to the detriment of others and ourselves.
Time can not be replenished and it is the resource that is most often wasted. We do not realize that we wasted it until we have less of it to spend on things that can make a difference. Pink Floyd's song 'Time' draws a clear picture of this phenomenon.
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun
And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death
This process repeats itself when we fail to recognize time wasters when we see them as legitimate needs. A house, car, land, and toys all require our time to keep them in good working order and the quantity and size can increase the amount required. We use distractions to avoid situations or feelings we are not comfortable with or to compensate for our dissatisfaction with other areas of our life. For instance if our work was more than a job maybe we would not feel the need to fill the remaining time with something to counteract the discontent it creates.
Maybe a Review is in Order
The Pharisees where trying to trap Jesus when they asked him if it was right to pay a tax to Caesar. Jesus asked them whose image was on the coin used to pay the tax. They replied that it was Caesar's image on the coin. Jesus response was to give Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's. We where created in God's image and therefore we are what he desires. His sacrifice stemmed from love and he wants us to share that love with others. There are numerous studies that demonstrate that the things that affects us the most are those in which the main ingredient is time.
The things we have may legally be ours but we are only renting. When we die those things stay here and someone else takes over the payments. So how much do we really need? Using the example of the character of Pahom, in Leo Tolstoy's narrative "How Much Land Does a Man Need?", it does not amount to much.