Time is of the Essence

Time is factored into everything. And it seems that everything can be factored into time.

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In our work and our play, time is a consideration.

The statement that “time is of the essence” has its origin in contract law. Those five words carry a heavy weight. They say, “There is no margin for error when it comes to time. Even a little late breaches this contract.”

You may know people who live their lives as if time is of the essence. We find them to be remarkable and stable and champions of both professional and personal relationships. They’re the ones toiling in the sun who pause to lean on their shovel to chat. They’re the ones who stop, even in the middle of the most tedious task, and make room for you to sit for awhile.

Oddly, those who truly seem to make time the essence of their lives are the ones who seem to be unaware of time.

I’ve become lost in stories where the author describes an experience as timeless. It’s not, of course. But it seems that way because of the focus in the moment. Our attention is shifted away from the demands of life to honor the sanctity of relationship or beauty or calm.

Holy scripture teaches that finding God is best achieved in timeless moments. It is in those precious intervals that He unlocks the secrets of time and servant opportunity. And therein is the essence of living life as it was intended.

Adrift in the Sea of Pleasure | Missing the Islands of Joy

Semantics aside, there is a difference between pleasure and joy.

Pleasure

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Both can be good. Yet, as I watch the world around me I can’t help but notice the emphasis on pleasure. It is advertised and sold in the marketplace, online, and on the street corner. Pleasure comes with a surge of dopamine and good vibes. But ultimately, its energy source dims and our memories of the moment drive us forward to find, to procure, and to consume pleasure.

Addicts are those who constantly chase pleasure. The cravings created by the rush of stimulation are seeming undeniable. Talk to someone who is dependent on pleasure and you’re talking to a person who suffers more than they smile.

Joy, on the other hand, is a perspective on life and a way forward fueled by a self-renewing energy cell. Joy comes from relationship and an acceptance of how we fit in with the world around us. Great literature and holy texts speak of joy. Yet, you don’t see anyone advertising joy as a commodity.

Joy is generated from walking among the hurt and the chaos of the world with the ability to see and grasp the good that exists there. Good is resilient. Even in the face of seemingly overpowering evil, good will surface. And joyful people seem to have a special talent for brushing away the dust and grime to make joy apparent to others.

If you’ve ever experienced joy, you know that it isn’t a heart-pounding experience. Joy is release and contentment. Joy is more than pleasure and simple happiness. Joy is a glimpse of heaven on earth.

Pleasure has its purposes. However, the constant drive toward pleasure displaces the essence of joy — the sense of purpose that does more than paint a smile on our faces.

If you feel an absence of joy in your life, take a look at those things you chase. In all likelihood, they are the things that you believe will bring pleasure. The short-term may allow you to grab pleasure, but eventually, you’ll discover you are adrift and unable to sustain the momentum.

Remember the islands of joy are all around you. Walk ashore. Sit down. Enjoy the security of solid ground. You may be surprised how many joyful people you meet on those beaches.

Why Do You Dream the Dreams You Dream?

Do you catch yourself dreaming during your waking hours? What are those dreams? Where do they come from? Why do you dream?

good news

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Recent research indicates that your sleeping dreams are generated from your brain stem. Perhaps this is a maintenance function that allows you to process things that have been clogging up your higher thinking processes. What we do know is that people often wake up with answers to questions that plagued them the night before or with insight that escaped them after days of attempts at rational thought.

The dreams I have during quiet moments of wakefulness never seem to be like that. If they are truly dreams, then they are projections of reality — a wish, a hope, a . . . well, a dream. These thoughts are fairly well-formed. They have some degree of substance. And almost always, they bear a price. The concoctions of the mind that come easily and cheaply don’t seem to rise to the status of true dreams.

We can become lost in these dreams. Or we can experience these thought-filled moments with an expectation of finding ourselves and our place on a path. That moment of discovery is the seed of vision. As I wrote in an earlier post, I believe that vision is simply a dream with a pathway to make it real.

Not all dreams should result in vision. Let’s face it some dreams are just dreams. In fact, some are pipe dreams — wishes that are almost impossible or impractical to achieve.

But what about those dreams that call to you? Why do they keep coming back?

I wonder what fuels my waking dreams and I’m an eager witness to the dreams that edge their way towards vision. I’d love to hear yours someday. And I am really interested in how you invest in those dreams to produce vision.

Evaluation: asking questions and doing something with the answers

Why "Rut-Living" is Such a Powerful Force

I live in a rut. My view from here is a dirt floor and two dirt walls extending as far as the eye can see. My initial evaluation of my situation makes me tired. I can definitely climb out of this rut and do things differently. Yet that would require asking hard questions, making difficult decisions, and investing time and resources into something less predictable than this rut.

Don’t get me wrong or hear this as a complaint about the rut or some kind of creepy cry for help. I am truly blessed. But in my sixth decade of life on this planet, I still have dreams.

Some of you know that my choice of the word “dreams” has significance. I almost always prefer “vision” over “dreams.” My self-imposed working definition of “vision” is a dream with a clear or emerging path to achieve the dream.

I know dreamers. Wonderful people. Hearing them talk warmly about their dreams is a pleasant experience for all of us within earshot. With some of these folks, you can tell that their dreams will always exist in the land of unicorns and cotton-candy rainbows simply because they will never do anything to achieve them. This does not make them any less wonderful. Although, if the dreamer is someone in your life who is supposed to be leading or making something significant happen, watching dreams die a slow death is truly frustrating.

When you live in a rut, you can have dreams. And unless life has really beat you down, rut-living can be an awesome inspiration for many, many dreams.

For a good part of the almost four years I have been in my sixties, I have made a point of telling people that I am getting old. I do that to some extent because I want to acknowledge the gray and absent hair, the hearing loss, and the embarrassing slide to rut-living contentment I sometimes feel. But my dreams plague me. And, upon further thought, they frustrate me because few of them connect to vision anymore. There are no clear paths ahead for some of these great ideas or zany inspirations.

I often counsel younger individuals to evaluate — to ask questions and then to be honest about the answers that come. Without evaluation, rut-living becomes pretty appealing. Ultimately, it becomes an excuse to stop planning and, in essence, stop engaging in making the world a better place.

So, if you’ve been my next door neighbor in Rut World, won’t you join me in some good old-fashioned evaluation? If you read the news, you know that there is a deep need for people with vision. Let’s be part of that movement.

Why is negativity so seductive?

In random tweets rolling across my phone this morning came this quote “Distance yourself from negativity and great things will happen.” Those words immediately captured me and my impulse was copy and share that idea repeatedly. After all, it’s a great, wise thought.

Overcoming Negativity

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And, it’s true.

Yet, as I thought over it, I started to question why it resounded so strongly with me. Was I in quest of great things? Or did I just covet the distance from negative people, negative talk, and negative reaction?

Granted, there’s nothing bad about wanting either. But I think I would seek the distance above the greatness. Negativity makes me tired. It makes me tired when I roll in it. It makes me tired when you do. I totally understand that negativity is sometimes necessary as part of our decision-making process.

The irony of this line of reasoning is that much of the negativity I see in others is a direct byproduct of my own negative ways. When we hear a criticism — particularly if it rings true with our own experience — we jump on the bandwagon. Negativity begets negativity.

So, when I go back to look at the quote, I feel pulled to like it on the greatness side.

If you and I do great things, negativity doesn’t disappear. But it loses its power.

Be powerful today. Help someone else. Give a compliment. Step to the side and give others the time they need. Be joyful in the work you’ve been given to do. Rejoice in recreation. Smile. Laugh. Cry. Do it on your own and with others.

Experience greatness.