Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

October 13, 2009 · 8 comments

What’s your current outlook on life?  Is it rosy?  Is the glass half-full, or half-empty?

What’s your focus on right now?  Not in general; I’m not asking if you’re an optimist or a pessimist, but rather how you view life right at this moment.  If that’s a bit too pressing or hard to nail down, then what has your focus been on for the last week or so?

Work?  Play?  Dating?  Family?  Adventures?

For a lot of people (mostly nine-to-fivers), Labor Day marked a turning point: summer’s over, back to work.  Was that the case for you?

I have a friend who’s a schoolteacher, so the beginning of September signalled back-to-school; and, consequently, back to work.  She’s a hard worker and a perfectionist and wicked stressed out.  Weekends are too short and there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get everything done during the week.

I want to urge her to enjoy life – to step back, take a deep breath, and enjoy the scenery.  Smell the roses, as it were (though I’m more of an hyacinth kind of guy – but I’m sure, dear reader, that you’re picking up what I’m putting down).

Thing is, I don’t know that that’s necessarily the right advice.  The Beatles did that song “to everything (turn, turn, turn) / there is a season (turn, turn, turn)…”  Those lyrics are actually from the Bible:

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

I’m not a big Beatles fan, but I think they get the vibe across pretty well:  it’s about balance.  Sometimes we’re supposed to sit back and figure out what the cloud-shapes mean, and other times, we’re supposed to buckle-down, put our noses to the grindstone and work.

So my basic question is this:  is that right?  Is it proper or even possible to enjoy the ride all the time?  Is my friend just in one of those times of war, sewing, gathering, breaking down, planting, etc.?  Do those times have definite beginnings and endings, or are they more grey than black and white?

That is, are these times measured in hours, days, months, or are they measured in moments?  Does proper balance dictate that these times be part of our daily lives, ups and downs within each day, or should they be segregated and confined to busy-times and vacation days?

I don’t really have an answer.  That’s why I’m asking you, dear reader.  I suppose that for me, everything is always grey.  That’s why I call myself agnostic.  Sure, I’ve had those buckle-down, no enjoyment times, but they’re not all drudgery:  I get a certain enjoyment out of the accomplishments along the way.  “Life is a journey, not a series of destinations.”

What do you think?  What’s your outlook right now?  Are you pursuing your passion(s) daily with your every waking breath, or trying to fit it (them) in where you can?  Are you succeeding?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Janey October 13, 2009 at 01:33

Glass half full Ted, always. Live each day as if its your last becasue life is just too short. Sure there’s times when other things will be meant to be, but those things will happen anyway, and part of life’s adventure is coming across and dealing with those them as they do. Each new thing we meet makes us better and stronger for the next one, and in the meantime, life is for living x

@Fanny_Ingabout

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Scott October 13, 2009 at 08:09

When I live life selflessly thats when I get the most enjoyment. If im constantly thinking about myself then I almost always come up with something thats wrong. When Im helping to make someone elses day better thats when I have the bigest smile. I try to act and not react cause I can think about my action my reactions always come from a place of sefishness when I’m reacting to something I think is negative. Meditation and yoga help me to stay in a positive mental state minful of what im doing and thats about all I have to say about that.

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Cheryl October 13, 2009 at 09:31

We must have balance to truly enjoy life. Happiness is not as sweet without the bitterness that sadness brings as contrast. When we work hard, we enjoy our downtime even more. For your friend the teacher, I think there is a difference between hard work and stress.

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The Naked Redhead October 13, 2009 at 11:53

I don’t believe in balance, nor do I think it’s possible or advisable. If you think about what balance really means, there are many areas in our lives that would suffer because of balance. When you meet a new lover, should you really “balance” those beginning butterflies and special moments? When you are tackling that big project at work, should you walk out at 5pm on the dot because you need “balance”?

(But I guess you could also go ’round about what “balance” means…is it synonymous with “fairness” or “equality”?)

I think there are times when we have to go at things with gusto, to chase our dreams, to work harder than we’ve ever worked before. There are also times when we must say, “enough” and sleep the day away, laze on the couch, soak up the outdoors, neglect our chores…so perhaps that’s where “balance” comes in…like you said, through the moments of our lives. So, I’m with the Beatles and Solomon, there’s a time for everything.

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Being Samiantha October 13, 2009 at 13:24

I agree with TNR.
There is no balance.

Ever really tried to live everyday like it’s your last? It’s friggin exhausting! There is a time for everything.

A balance of mental state is something we should all strive for. What works for person *A* might not for person *B*.

Do whatever works for you to keep you sane.

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BRIAN October 13, 2009 at 13:40

Balance is a tough one especially when you try to stay in the moment. If I’m busy and stressed and in the moment then I’m not trying to relax and visa versa. I’m just trying to enjoy life and have an optimistic outlook. It’s real easy for me to be pestimistic but I guess right now I have some really good positive things going on in my life and I’m trying to hold on to this feeling. Should I try to balance it out by thinking about depressing things like dead babies or something? No thanks!

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Tomers October 13, 2009 at 14:08

Hey, don’t blame that song on The Beatles; it was written by Pete Seeger and performed most famously by The Byrds.

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Christof October 16, 2009 at 00:50

I was going to say something but then realized my glass was half full of beer….so I drank it…have to go top up…brb..

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