Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Hit Pause on Time
Can't I just stop time, even just for a little bit?
As I count down to 30, I'm feeling all of these desires to hold life right where it is. I was picking out cards for a friend's 30th birthday and I hated almost every card that I saw. One said, "Happy 29th... again!" Messages like that get me angry and I want to blast this notion that there is an ideal age out of my mind and out of Hallmark.... BUT, I also share the insecurities that cards like these embody. I want to love myself at every stage and just walk around with an attitude of fabulosity (technical term). On the other hand, I find myself worrying about loosening skin, grey hair, and stomach flatness. At some point I will start a family and as I contemplate that, I remember hearing someone say: "Having kids is the end of fun and the beginning of joy." Well, that's all well and good, but I really love FUN!
I don't think this feeling is only about turning 30. I hear from parents that they just want to hit the pause button and enjoy the stage they are in with their kids, especially when their kids are young (note: not usually said by parents of middle school kids). I hear the same thing from grandparents who want more time with their grandkids, and adult children who don't want to watch their parent's health decline.
This desire to pause is so deeply seeded in us especially when we start to realize how precious life is and how easily it can fly by or disappear. There is a story of King Solomon who asked his servant to find him a ring that could make a happy man sad and a sad man happy. Eventually, after scouring the land, he brought back the item of jewelry that Solomon described. The King looked at the engraving in the inside of the ring and read the words:
גם זה יעבור (Gam zeh ya'avor)
This too shall pass.
I call this the Kohelet syndrome. The book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) is also attributed to King Solomon. We read in Chapter 2: "
Therefore I hated life, because the deeds that are done under the sun were depressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind." He could have written for Hallmark. What a downer! I guess the guy really struggled with time also. This phrase, "grasping for wind" captures the urge to press pause. But it is just not possible. And when I accept that (reluctantly, because Superman was able to turn back time in one of his movies), I begin to remember the other parts of Kohelet.
The same Kohelet who appears to say so often that living is vanity and time is slipping by also exclaims that there is nothing better than man rejoicing (3:22), and that nothing is better for man under the sun than to eat, drink, and be joyful (8:15)....Go, eat your bread with joy, drink your wine with a content mind; for God has already graced your deeds (9:7).
… He obviously didn’t know how many WW points are in a roll:)
It seems that the fleeting nature of time also makes us savor each moment that much more. It makes me want to get together with friends and share a delicious glass of wine, not so much that I lose myself, but just enough so that I really enjoy the moment. I think that while we cannot pause time, we can focus in on every moment more intently, drawing awareness to the way we live.
In this way, we do press pause.
This morning, I was running to my car and realized that I did not stop to enjoy the warmth of the sun on my face, so I just stopped dead in my tracks in front of my prius and gave up a little blessing that I felt joy over the warmth spreading over me.
The antidote to rushing time seems to be cultivated gratitude and mindfulness. Kohelet is right, we cannot turn 29 again, we cannot grasp at wind, but we can stand still occasionally and appreciate the breeze on our necks.
Posted by Dahlia Bernstein at 12:35 PM