Years ago, I read a conversation between journalist Bill Moyers and philosopher Jacob Needleman on “the philosophy of time.”
Needleman believed time is literally shrinking, that we have more time-saving devices than any other period in history and yet, no one seems to have time to sit down and have dinner with their families or a cup of coffee with a friend.
Indeed, it appears that time is a diminishing commodity. One of the casualties of this diminishment of time is the practice of self-reflection. Fewer and fewer Americans seem to have the luxury to sit quietly and contemplate their place in this world or to take stock of their own state of the union.
Many of us latch onto a belief system handed down to us at childhood and hold for dear life without any reflection as to its meaning or usefulness during our time on Earth. We tow the party line without questioning the validity of our inherited belief systems.
For those following this path, the world becomes more black and white with no consideration that the world may be more complex than what we were taught to believe. Perhaps more of us should listen to Billy Joel’s “Shades of Grey.”
Why waste time with questions when you already have certainty. This is the road most traveled. Why not; it’s the path that requires the least amount of effort. But it’s also the road that is littered with potholes, devoid of meaning and growth. Certainty is the enemy of learning.
I find many metaphors for living when I engage with the natural world. I used to sail in my youth. Navigating a sailboat across the ocean to a destination is a tricky endeavor. Weather, currents and wind direction are constantly taking you off course.
In order to arrive safely to your desired destination, one must make a series of corrections. The sun and the stars may tell you where you are at any given time, but you must always adjust your heading to keep you on course, ensuring that you are sailing in the right direction. Such is life.
We were not put on this Earth to merely survive and then die. I believe we are born to live, to learn and to evolve. To have a meaningful life, we have to make room for reflection, to assess where we are and to make the necessary corrections for where we got off course.
This is what it is to be and feel alive. This is the glorious gift of being human. Make time, challenge your assumptions and commit to rigorous self-reflection.
Happy sailing, my friends.