Annie Dillard once noted that how you spend your days is how you spend your life, or something like that. I am a father of three energetic lads who do things like go to school, make videos for homework, practice football, jiujitsu, and swimming (to say nothing of cycling around the neighbourhood, playing man-tracker and whatnot); I am married to a wonderful woman with a job she loves and who fights for time to run, swim, do yoga, and cycle; I am a pastor of a church with all the demands that entails; I try to take care of my body, find time for a friend or two, and see my extended family from time to time; which is a rather long-winded way of saying, I get it, we are all busy. Still, in the busy-ness of it all I try to remain aware that how I spend my days will be how I have spent my life.
Many of us devote time in our lives to unimportant matters as well as vital matters like our marriages, parenting, RSPs and mortgages, and tiktok Facebook the NHL or whatever floats your entertainment boat. This is all good, all normal.
What I need to be sure to ask is how I am doing. Where am I going. Who am I becoming.
To answer big questions like that takes time. It may also take answering questions like is there a god? Why am I here? What happens when I die? What legacy am I creating?
For me, it seems that the world is more interested in selling me items that will gobble up my time even before I purchase them like NFL jerseys (which team logo? Which player name? Maybe I should spend time on this). Or selling me new cars (which brand, model, colour, features…again I could spend a lot of time here). I am also told I ought to like beer more than I do and that the type of beer I drink can tell others a lot about me so I must be careful in this decision as well…one particular sales pitch that I think threatens to gobble my time if I pursue it is investing “by myself to save fees.” The point is it often feels like the world wants me to spend my time on anything but the important-urgent questions in life. That makes sense, since there is little money in my thinking, unlike in my re-painting my house of changing all my furniture and clothing.
I suppose in this sense it is counter-cultural to just sit still and reflect. The reflective, contemplative, mediative life, or however you would describe it, is appealing in part because it is in opposition to so much noise and movement and pressure. If, like me, you sometimes lose track of time, or find yourself floating along in a haze of getting through the day-week-month, then may I suggest fall is a great time to take a breather. I know vacations are for summer (or maybe for winter ski trips or sunny vacations) but autumn is magic.
These are precious days we are in, autumn is such a special time. It is a fabulous time to sit and reflect. There are, in my neck of the woods anyways, countless beautiful scenes to sit and look at and ponder. Birds are on the move, trees are changing colours and turning into larger than life flowers, the temperature is comfortable for sitting still for long periods. All of this makes it a wonderful time of year to begin the process of sitting still and reflecting on what matters to you, not to anyone else.
If you feel you need permission then here it is: Go ahead and sit still, even if it won’t make anyone like you more, and certainly regardless if it means no one is making money off you.