I’ve had more time to think for the past couple weeks than usual as I’ve been recuperating from surgery. (I’m fine, thanks be to God.) The recovery required me to interrupt my normal activity driven schedule and basically do something I (ashamedly) rarely do: rest.
Here’s some of what I learned or relearned:
Television is proof of the end of civilization as we know it. So many of the shows I watched out of sheer boredom were based on the premise that anything rude, crude or disrespectful is funny. C.S. Lewis said that the world is actually too good or too bad to describe. Television, for the most part, seems to focus on the “too bad” not just in terms of reporting; television manufactures the crass and unpleasant as an accepted entertainment form.
I’ve been an avid reader for my entire life, but I got so much uninterrupted time to read that I rediscovered the joy of reading slowly and deeply. I read the Sunday New York Times. I did more than skim the Wall Street Journal. I reviewed books I’d read in the past. I studied notes I’d made and had not looked at for years. It was enjoyable and beneficial. The missing part for many of us who read today is time to truly reflect and digest. I recovered that during my down time.
Having a good conversation is enhanced when there is nothing in particular to do after the conversation ends. Remove the rush form the conversation and you improve the richness.
Control is an illusion. We need to take responsibility for our lives, but don’t confuse that with control. You can eat right, exercise, live well and still get sick. You can save prudently, invest wisely and still get hammered by a recession. You can be the world’s best parent and still end up with rotten kids. And visa versa. Acknowledging that doesn’t make me fatalistic; it just keeps me realistic. How much of our anger is driven by a need for control that we can never have? For me, honestly, this is a problem. I want to believe that if I do the right stuff at the right time in the right combination I can make my life work. I can increase the likelihood that my life will work better on a good day, or less poorly on a bad day. But I don’t have anything approaching complete control. Lacking any faith, I’d most likely be an existentialist trying to make meaning from the meaningless events of my life. As a person of faith, I choose to believe my Creator is in control and working things out for my benefit that I may never understand in this life.
I relearned this: in the midst of bad economic times, all that ultimately matters is faith, family and friends. I like the toys and trips and experiences which are the proverbial icing on the cake. Fortunately, I could do without them as long as I have the faith, family and friends.
I wish you a prosperous and healthy New Year.
Mark, I’m happy to hear you are recovering well. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. -Michael