Sadness of Passing Time (Pt. 1)

Old man astonished as he looks at his pocket watch..
Disclaimer: Let me shed some light on the content of this post before I start. A lot of this was taught by the campus director at the campus ministry I attend at New Mexico State University. With his permission, I wanted to have you read about the subject. I did make it my own, but I wanted to give him credit. Also, I noticed that there was so much information over the topic, so I will be uploading it in two different parts. Check the site next week to be up to date. Now, Bon Apetite!
For those who personally know me, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I have a problem with time management. If you didn’t know that, then this is how I open up and let you get to know me (or you can always ask me something via the contact page). Sooner or later, we will become good friends, though. When someone asks me how I spent my weekend, don’t be surprised if I tell you I could have done something better. This has been my greatest enemy throughout my college career and most of it has to do with watching countless videos on YouTube.

Because of this, I will be up Sunday night worried about the homework or an exam that I could have done the previous day. As an English major, I will spend a lot of time reading page after page about rhetoricians or learning how to write which is tough to do at 1 A.M. A quick word of advice; don’t follow my bad example. No one wants to waste time doing something that isn’t important when you could be growing in mentally, physically, or spiritually. I also found a name that was used for these type of people a long time ago: Whiffle-Whaffles. I’m bringing this word back.

The Japanese may have it right.

As I continued to look up this topic, I found myself reading about the concept of “Mono No Aware”. This is a  Japanese phrase that is closely translated to “Sadness of Passing Time”. There is no direct translation to English, so I came to the conclusion that it could be better translated to, “the realization of passing time”. “So what does that mean?”, you may ask. The Japanese believe that nothing is permanent. They believe that time will pass and you will feel a number of emotions when you realize that the day, week, or year has gone by. It could be sadness, regret, joy, or even a surprise, simply because time may be running out.
Cherry Blossom trees along a river.
We can better understand the idea of Mono No Aware through the life of a Cherry Blossom Tree. The Japanese explain the idea of time through an illustration of this beautiful tree. The Cherry Blossom will begin to sprout its petals towards the end of Spring. The full blooming stage (mankai) will arrive about a week after it begins to bloom (kaika). After this, the flowers gradually fall from their branches. If there is a strong wind current or hard rain, it could cut the life of the petals much shorter. It’s somewhat sad to know that the tree’s  beauty could be cut so short. We need to view this like our time on Earth. Our life is that cherry blossom; it is not permanent. We will only be here for a fragment of the Earth’s existence.
And this isn’t news to any of us. Many of us have already realized that time is short. We can agree that time is important to man. We value this non-tangible man-made aspect. We took what God created in Genesis to separate Day and Night and have made it something that we become anxious about. We only focus on the lack of time.

Caution: There is a sign on the road!

So, how should we worry? How does one worry properly? It’s bound to happen, right?
Allow me to paint a picture in your head. You are in a small town that is located at the base of a mountain and you want to get to the top before sunrise to get a great view of the town from up above. The only way to get there is to go on a day hike or you can drive there in your car. You do notice that you only have about an hour to get there, so walking up there won’t be an option at this point. It would be dark by the time you arrive if you took that option. You decide to get in your car and drive. There are many winding roads and multiple switchbacks. If you are not careful you can run into the mountainside or even fall off the side of the mountain.
Since you are so close to cliffs, you notice signs that read: Caution Falling Rocks.
Sign that reads, Caution Falling Rock

What do you normally do when you see these signs? You won’t know if on your way to the top you will encounter rocks on the road. You aren’t in control of when or if the rocks are going to fall on your way. Your speed doesn’t change when or if a rock will fall. Having a special car or a particular way of controlling your car won’t stop them from falling. They will fall no matter what. So, how do you handle something that you can’t control?

What is the attitude that you should have in situations that you can’t control? Just like you can’t control those rocks, you can’t control how many exams you will have throughout the week. You, also, can’t control whether or not someone will call you to give you the job that you applied for. If we worry about this, we will only have anxiety, worry, fear, and meltdowns – Is this the wisest response we can have? What good would our stress and worry do? The Bible brings this up in some context. Psalm 89:47 reminds us how quick time passes. It shows the futility of mankind. I like how the NET bible translation takes this verse: “Take note of my brief lifespan! Why do you make all people so mortal?” Humans are mortal, so we need to focus on how we use our time here. Like the road sign analogy, if the driver worries, it doesn’t affect the rocks that are falling, but worrying will have a tremendous effect on the driver. Do you see how useless it is to worry about what we can’t control?

 

It also comes down to this; If you are a Christian, not only is it pointless to worry, but it is also sinful. If you worry so much, you have a lack of trust in God. You don’t believe that he can take care of you through every step you take. If you don’t trust God, we will also have trouble seeing Him. The only way to make time management work is if we, first and foremost, make time for Him. Drop what you’re doing and make immediate time for Jesus. Matthew 6:25-34 shows us that God knows what we need. We shouldn’t worry about the clothes and the food that we may not have, because He will provide. I see this in my life every day. God has provided my financial and dietary needs since I could remember. He has placed people in my life that have encouraged me and helped me in times of need. And as it says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”, I believe that there is no reason to continue in distress.

 

There is a neat demonstration of this called the “Jar of Life”. I won’t go explain it, but if you want to watch a video, click here. I highly recommend that you take 2.5 minutes to watch it.
You might have wondered why I used the particular image of the old man for my featured image. It struck a chord with me when I saw how astonished he appears as he looks at the pocket watch. I thought, “Do I really want to be that person?” Ask yourself, “Do I want to live a long life, only to realize that I wasted it watching countless hours of YouTube, scrolling for countless minutes on Facebook or Instagram, or doing something that I know wouldn’t gratify God?”
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