Conditions Are Right: Transcending Busyness
The HVAC system was not working when I arrived at work this morning. I find it difficult to work under such barbaric conditions where the mercury is expected to dip to an icy 55 degrees. Come to think of it, I find it difficult to work under ANY conditions these days. In any case, certain conditions in life come whether we’re ready for them or not. The Bible refers to such conditions as seasons.
In his book If You Didn’t Bring Jerky, What Did I Just Eat, author Bill Heavey pauses for a serious moment and describes his encounters with men who have survived extended combat: “Such men tend to be low-key to the point of self-effacement. They have transcended any need for the approval—or even the attention—of others. Any questions about their identity, or worth, or place in life have already been settled. They know that each breath is a gift.”
I never experienced military combat, but I will be sixty next year, plus I’ve been married for over 25 years . . . which in a just world would qualify me for a Purple Heart (just kidding, sort of). At this age, many of my questions about life have been answered. The desire for the approval of others and the insatiable drive to carve out a place and identity in life has turned out to be, well, satiable. When you’re no longer committing all your energy to prove yourself or impress God, it becomes much easier to love.
There was a time in my life when, vocationally, I was on top of my game. My work was golden and recognized by my peers. Empathy came easy, but deep love and concern for others often took a backseat to career aspirations. Those career agendas are fading in this soon-to-be latter season of life. Lately I find myself engaging in the futile attempt to recapture the magic of youthful experiences. Still, there is hope that the future has some special moments to look forward to as time becomes more precious. I see this change in others, as well.
We take my mother-in-law to family functions and out to dinner now and then. She’s in her eighties and quite frail. During these excursions I’ve noticed an interesting phenomena: elderly people (total strangers) will often stop and hug my-mother-in-law while engaging in small talk. It’s as if the elderly (the wise ones) know that they are in a season of days and hours, unlike the young who live in a season of months and years. The elderly take time to connect because they know all too well that time is a finite gift from heaven. They are not quick to cut off a conversation because they have other things to do. I caught myself getting impatient the other day when we left a restaurant and my mother-in-law stopped to chat with an elderly lady at the door of the eatery. I had “important” things to do at home. After a while, the two embraced and I was eventually able to go about my “important” business.
In an instant, in the blink of an eye we all enter that season where my mother-in-law currently lives. I can feel the inevitability of it coming. I hope my kids are patient with me in that season where the shadows grow long.
Posted on November 11, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged Aging, Approval, Busyness, Career Aspirations, Conversations, Embracing Others, Every Breath, Finite Time, Life Questions, Taking Time. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.