I had quite a few pictures that I was intending to share with you from the last week of holiday celebrations. But when I looked at them this morning, I thought, ‘the holiday is behind us’. Maybe you will see them next year, if we’re all still going then. But it seems that now would be the right time to relate to the new year coming up. And so, I’ve decided to write a bit about time.
I suppose it’s only natural for us to think of the year that has passed, as we approach the new year, if only to weigh the experiences, good and bad in the perspective of having concluded a full year. We do much the same at the end of a decade, and we still remember all the wonderful commentaries at the end of the millennium, and how it was to look back at history for a few days. But the new year is also a good occasion to think about time, and how we relate to it.
There are some people who spend quite a bit of their lives enjoying nostalgia… remembering precious moments, and wonderful experiences from the past, and since our memories allow us to glide over the pain, the embarrassment, the tension and the fear, the memory of things past often seem more delightful than they were when we were in the process of going through them. And it is not only that we are able to filter out the unbearable parts of the past. Our memories are pliable, and we are able to tell ourselves (or others) a story as we would like to remember it. In a way, our memories are often the story as we would like to see it or hear it. It is subjective. Other people like to work towards certain goals, or live in expectation. They know that at some time in the future, they will go off on vacation, or buy a new house, or a new car; they live in the hope of finding Mr. Right, or Ms Right; they wait for school to get out, or for the moment they will start the new job, or setting up their own business, or for the old folks to die so that they will get their inheritance. Such patterns of thinking start pretty young, and once we’ve gotten into the habit of rewarding ourselves by remembering the good ol’ days, or pushing ourselves forward with the incentive of imagining that things are going to be a lot better at the next stage of life, it becomes quite hard to abandon this emotional candy, and just live the moment. It was John Lennon that wrote in one of his songs, ‘life happens while we’re busy making plans’. And sometimes, life goes right by us, without our noticing.
In this modern life style that we are living, we are constantly being entertained and stimulated, whether by stories or movies or songs or advertisements. Sometimes we forget ourselves in the adrenalin rush of this white water rafting that has come to take the place of life. There is action all around us. Sights and sounds, and every subtlety of emotion. But I would suggest that in order to truly appreciate this life, we have to have some quiet… and the ability to find our own completeness in the present; this very hour, this very moment.
And to conclude this train of thought, I would like to mention once again the transgression of Moses our teacher, who was punished for his mistake by not being allowed to enter the promised land. He was our greatest teacher, and considered the most modest among all men. And so, it is all the more interesting to study his mistake, and learn from it. If you remember, the children of Israel were thirsty, and God asked him to speak to a rock, and water would spring from it. But Moses, our teacher, was sick and tired of hearing complaints from the Israelites day after day, without let up… and he lost his temper. Instead of talking to the rock, he hit it with his stick. Sure enough, the rock gave water. But it wasn’t the rock, he wanted to hit. And it was because of that, that he was punished.
As we approach the new year, I would like to wish you, my friends, and myself as well, a year in which we will be completely aware of every hour that we live, and in which we will be careful to direct our love, and our thoughts, and even our anger, and our complaints in the right direction. May our words be like poetry, precise and meaningful, and our actions like the arrow, aimed and shot properly from the bow, and finding it’s way to the exact target. Happy New Year