The Gift Of Time…
by Stephen Doherty
“When something bad happens, you have three choices. Either you can let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.”–Dr Seuss
I was on a Zoom call a few months ago, with a men’s group I belong to, when one of the participants said something I found compelling. He said, “I hope I come out of this pandemic & quarantine crisis a better man than when I went in.” The more I thought about that, the more I was convinced that we all have an obligation to emerge from this present crisis with some measure of spiritual and evolutionary rebirth.
Despite all of the negatives, and they run the gamut from a badly damaged economy to the tragic loss of life to the unprecedented societal and cultural divisions in our nation–we have also been the recipients of an extraordinary gift. Time! Hours, days, weeks, and months of pure sheltered and quarantined time! The kind of time most of us can only dream about amidst busy lives and frantic schedules. The kind of time that allows a level of meditation and introspection that few ever experience until the twilight of their lives. The kind of time that allows long and deliberate analysis of our lives and the opportunity to contemplate and implement necessary change.
Socrates once said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I’m not sure I’d go that far but certainly the pace of normal life is more frenetic than it is introspective. The human spirit is no different than any other high performance engine. It needs regular care and maintenance. We all know what happens to any machinery or engine when it’s neglected and not cared for. It begins to underperform and age at an accelerated pace. Over time, the erosion of neglect begins to destroy the machinery from the inside out. You can’t see it, but you can feel it, and the diminished performance will be a tight spiral to destruction if needed maintenance isn’t provided.
The human spirit is no different. It requires similar care and maintenance as any high-performance machinery. It needs (but rarely gets) the necessary time to slow down and detach itself from the day to day. It needs deliberate and intense relaxation driven by slow and methodic deep breathing and emotional release. It needs meditation that penetrates otherwise impenetrable layers of our subconscious mind. True and worthwhile introspection that generates worthwhile and lasting change, can come only from dedicating the needed time to its practice. We have been given that time.
I’m no Zen master and time will tell if my forced hibernation will yield any long lasting and beneficial changes to my life. I do know that I accepted, gratefully and thankfully, the opportunity to do a “deep dive” of my own life and how I live it. I do know that many habits were exhaustively examined and changed and modified in an effort to treat myself better. I do know that the exercise resulted in better sleep habits and less tension and stress in my days–not because my life had changed so much but because I had. I do know that my appreciation of life and all things in it seem much more intense and satisfying to me now.
Each of us will emerge from this unprecedented time-warp in ways unimaginable only a few months ago. I hope and pray that each of us embraced the gift of time to look inward…and all that entails. Our current circumstances are so epically rare and devastating that one can easily imagine a divine reason for this rarest of interventions. I look forward to seeing all of you on the “other side…”
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails
to always reach my destination.” -Jimmy Dean