Friday, July 16, 2010

My Watch - A Device To Measure Guilt

I have a watch.  Most people do.  Sometimes it is on your arm, sometimes it is the screen of your cell phone.  Either way, most people know what time it is.

Why is it that people all over the world care what time it is?  Isn't time, or at least our measurement of it, nothing more than a little motor moving steadily in one direction?  Why do we care?

I would suggest that people want to know what time it is because time is how we measure almost everything.  We measure age, we measure accomplishment, we measure worthiness for things like meal time and sleep, we assign priority to events based on the time (I can do that later...) and we determine our progress...all relative to time.

That is a lot of pressure for a four letter word if you ask me.

Time also instigates guilt.  Thoughts such as "I wish I had done that sooner" and, "Why didn't I do that when there was time?" are both expressions of time related guilt and frustration.

Once again, time is such a powerful thing.  And like all powerful things, it can be used for good or evil. (muuhaahaa)

In a world where time goes forward and no one really knows what will happen next, there really are constants we can bank on.  One of those absolutes is change.  Things will be different in the future than they are now.  It is about 99.9% guaranteed.  Paint will peel, windows will crack, buildings will crumble. Relationships will change, people will be born, and people will die.  Jobs will be attained, jobs will be lost, and educations will be updated.

While walking around upset about this will do you no good, I do suggest some proactive steps to smooth the transition from the known of today into the unknown of tomorrow.

Step 1 - Identify what you need.  Notice I said "need" and not what you "really would like to imagine having."  Look at needs.  Things like food, shelter, clothing, medications, and emergency fund are at the top of my list.  Each of these things can be planned for ahead of time in small increments.

Step 2 - Identify the things that bring you comfort.  These are the items you consider comfort food for your soul.  This list will change more than the first, but can also be planned for ahead of time.  For me, books hit the list, as well as clean clothes and fluffy pillows.

Step 3 - Identify those things that are out of your control. This can be scary.  No one likes to be out of control when it comes to the big things.  While I may not care where I eat lunch, I do care where I live if forced to evacuate my home.  List things like natural disasters, death, and medical emergency.

Compare your first and second lists to the last list and see what steps you need to take to ensure you will have everything you need and most of what you want.

Here is where time comes in.  All of this must be done before you need it.  The is why the word prepare starts with "pre" and not "post."  Take a look, figure out what you need and prepare for it.

Our society is very caught up on time.  We schedule to it, we plan for it and we buy expensive watches to keep track of it.  The irony of it all is this: until we DO something with it, all of our efforts are wasted.  Using time to our advantage is a skill not all have developed.  Believing that time will change nothing and that all will be the same forever is an illness our society suffers from.  If we have learned nothing else in this economic downturn, I would hope we have learned that things change.

Don't let your watch measure your guilt.  When things do change, you will be left either wondering what happened or glad you thought ahead.  Don't let time pass with inaction on your part. Prepare now.

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