What to do with the time we are given
One of the famous scenes from JR Tolkein’s book series “The Lord of the Rings” is when Frodo the Hobbit is talking with Gandalf the Wizard about his quest to destroy the ring of power. Frodo remarks that he wishes the ring had not come to him, and that it was not his burden to bear. To this, Gandalf replies that Frodo’s sentiment is shared by all people who face difficult times. But the times you live are not for you to decide. All that we can decide is what to do with the time we are given.
This scene is very metaphoric for the current economic environment that has left many people wishing for better days or complaining about the burdens of a floundering economy. It is a time where painful changes are being forced on the populace by market realities and government fiat. However, we as individuals are not give a choice about the times we live in. The only choice that any of us really have is about what to do with the time that we are living.
As such, it logically follows that we should seek to focus on the parts of our life that we can actually control. Said another way, we should concentrate our thoughts and actions on our sphere of influence instead of our sphere of awareness or sphere of concern. This isn’t to say that we should ‘check out’ from the world . . . knowledge of the local, national, and global marketplace is all a part of making decisions within our sphere of influence. However, most of us would be well served by resigning our self-appointed post as “General Manager of the Universe” and concentrating our efforts on the pieces of our world that we can control.
Part and parcel to this is the understanding that your life is shaped by our decisions. Both our good decisions and our bad decisions impact the course of our life. Most of us seek to take credit for all of our decisions that turn out good, and seek somebody to blame when things take a downward turn. We want to blame the government, big business, the Fed, or just about anybody else we can. However, the fact still remains that the investments we chose went down in value. We didn’t know they would go down … otherwise we wouldn’t have bought it. Before we can make much progress in our lives, we mus take ownership of the decisions that we make.
The hidden wisdom of this change in perspective is that it actually bestows more personal power. When we are faced up against a big nameless power, we can easily succumb to a feeling of inevitable helplessness. However, when our focus shifts to the things that we can control, it puts an entirely different spin on the time that we are given in our lives. We may not be able to control and influence everything, but we can learn to make the most of what we are able to influence and let go of the things that are out of our control.
It is only by learning to look past what is out of our control that we can learn to focus on what is within our control. The way that we make the most of the time that we are given is by doing the most with what we can control. In the end, each of us has a supreme choice to make. That choice is how we choose to spend the time that we are given to live on the earth. The quality of our time will depend on the decisions and choices that we make. It is incumbent upon each individual person to choose wisely.