Last night I stuck a bag of trash on the porch. Living in the country and not placing garbage in a receptacle is like playing Russian Roulette. Sometimes a varmint gets into it and other times they just pass it by. Unfortunately, last night something got into the trash and scattered it all over the driveway. It was the first thing I saw when letting the dog out this morning. I went inside, grabbed a new bag and began recollecting the trash. There’s nothing quite like picking up frost-covered garbage at dawn.
As I was gathering it and stuffing it into the bag I began to recall a Jewish wisdom tale;
A woman repeated a story (gossip) about a neighbor. Within a few days, everyone in the community knew the story. The person she talked about heard what had been said about her and she was very sad. Later, the woman who had spread the story learned that it was not true. She was very sorry and went to a wise rabbi and asked what she could do to repair the damage. After giving this some thought, the rabbi said to her, “Go home, get one of your feather pillows, and bring it back to me.” Surprised by the rabbi’s response, the woman followed his advice and went home to get a feather pillow and brought it to the rabbi. “Now,” said the rabbi, “open the pillow and pull out all the feathers.” Confused, the woman did what she was told to do. After a few minutes, the rabbi said, “Now, I want you to find every one of the feathers and put them back into the pillow.” “That’s impossible,” said the woman, almost in tears. “The window is open and the wind has scattered them all over the room and blown many feathers outside. I can’t possibly find them all.” “Yes,” said the rabbi. “And that is what happens when you gossip or tell a story about someone else. Once you talk about someone, the words fly from one person’s mouth to another, just like these feathers flew in the wind. Once you say them, you can never take them back.”
It was a great reminder that not only every word but every action has consequences that we cannot foresee. Our lives should be lived mindfully aware that our scattered thoughts, words, and actions will impact the world for evil or for good.
The alarm clock in our bedroom runs eight minutes fast. It’s a clock that should automatically synchronize with a radio signal and display the correct time but for some reason it doesn’t. We have an identical clock in the living room and it’s time keeping is excellent. In the mornings when I glance at the bedroom clock I know it’s actually earlier than the time shown. With this knowledge I stay in the warm bed just a while longer. It’s like discovering eight extra minutes!
After getting up today I wobbled into the kitchen and decided to fix myself strawberry and apple cinnamon muffins. I cheated and used the instant; “just add milk” brand, quickly prepared them, placed them in the oven and set the timer. Seventeen minutes later I heard the beep, opened the oven door and checked to see if they were ready. The muffins were golden brown but still felt mushy. I reset the timer for three minutes and closed the oven door. A few moments later the timer went off again and I rechecked the muffins and they were dark brown, almost burnt! I’m not a cook or a baker but quickly surmised that though three minutes doesn’t seem long it can make a big difference when it comes to muffins!
Time is a fickled thing. Eight extra minutes of sleep in a warm bed is wonderful, three extra minutes for muffins in an oven? Not so great. When we want an hour, a day or a season to pass quickly it seems to drag on but moments and events of joy and blessings pass quickly.
However time seems to be moving for us, as Bruce Lee, the great martial artist and wannabe philosopher, said; “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” Socrates echoes the sentiment when he revealed a great truth; “Enjoy yourself – it’s later than you think.”