Monday, September 04, 2006

Wind Chasing

"Meaningless! Meaningless!"
says the Teacher.
"Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless."

What does man gain from all his labor
at which he toils under the sun?

Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.

The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.

The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.

All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.

All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there anything of which one can say,
"Look! This is something new"?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.

There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow.

I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Ecclesiastes 1:2-14

I often find myself wondering about the way I spend my time. I'm pretty sure I don't make the best use of my time. And I'm not even sure that spending time wondering about the way I spend my time is a great way to spend my time. But now I'm confused. But I'll continue.

A lot of bloggers eventually write a few posts about whether it blogging is a good use of one's time. This post is not one of those posts. Instead I'm thinking more about the other things in my life. Not the stuff that actually has some sort of value, but the stupid things I do. The picture to the right is not of me. It's actually some woman setting the world's record for... get this... underwater ironing. That's what I said. Read it again if you like. Un-der-wa-ter-i-ron-ing. This dear lady is at a depth of around 100 meters in scuba gear, with a folding ironing board, an iron and a mental deficiency.

Let's think about this for just a moment. (Again, it's probably not the best use of my time or your time, but humor me.) She is ironing. Underwater. Generally, that's not the best way to iron. When I actually iron something, I usually start with a mostly-dry item of clothing. I'm assuming the iron isn't plugged in somewhere, as I don't see a long orange extension cord, or any signs that the diver is being electricuted. Then, it appears that the diver is actually ironing -- a t-shirt! As I've told more than one person, if you're ironing t-shirts, you need to get yourself a hobby.

Putting it all together, it's ridiculous to think that a woman is actually diving the depth of a football field into the ocean to iron a t-shirt in the most ineffective way imaginable. It's perhaps even more ridiculous that a photographer bothered to dive down 100 meters to take a picture of this woman!

As easy as it is to make fun of Miss Underwater Ironer, I realize that I'm no better. I'm not as hard on myself as Solomon was. I don't buy into the whole "everything is meaningless" argument. The two days I spent wandering around the county fair this weekend was time spent with family and friends. The time blogging helps me explore my relationship with God. My time reading blogs does the same thing.

But there's the hour or two in front of the television set. Or playing a computer game. Or surfing You Tube to see what silliness has been documented for the whole DSL-Connection-or-faster-world to see. Am I making the best use of my time? Obviously not. Most of the time I'm doing my share of wind chasing.

Why is it that time-wasters are able to climb up the ladder of priority in my life? (and I'm assuming yours also). True, I'm not ironing t-shirts underwater, but by the same token, I don't know how to scuba dive. Shoot, I barely know how to iron!

I wonder where the right mix is. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," I've always heard. Of course, I've always heard that from people who don't want to work! I wonder just how much of my life I've wasted, chasing the wind.

Paul wrote that whatever we do, we are to do it to the best of our ability as though we are doing it for God. I'm not quite sure Paul was thinking about underwater ironing when he wrote that, but is there a place for diversion? Is diversion like so many other things in life -- good in moderation, bad in overindulgence?

All I know is that I don't make the best use of my time, and I don't believe God is always pleased with the way I spend my waking hours. That is something I must be praying about.


Kim from Hiraeth said...

I, for one, am glad you took the time to write this. It's our first day of homeschool and I woke this morning thinking about how I spend my time and how I will spend my time now that school is back in session at our home.

I don't think I'll be playing Free Cell today. . .

Jennifer said...

As I've told more than one person, if you're ironing t-shirts, you need to get yourself a hobby.

LOL! I just ironed a whole stack of them yesterday. I like my t-shirts ironed, thank you very much! =)

Amaranth said...

I'm almost positive that this will be a topic on my own blog in the near's been on my mind a lot lately, too, especially as summer winds down.

John B said...

I don't think you should beat yourself up so badly. The attitude that one has to always be producing whether it's at work, or quality time with the family, or doing household chores is not a Biblical perspective as I read it. We get caught up in this American idea that unless a person is always doing something "productive" the person must be lazy and not worth much.

We need to rediscover the power of Sabbath time and the grace that is a part of that.

stephanie garcia said...

As someone who struggles daily with this issue of time-wasting and finding a proper balance, I enjoyed reading this post! I also appreciated your previous "family traditions" post, especially as you touched on the topic of adoption (we have three precious children through adoption.) Blessings to you and your ministry!

julie said...

Thanks for the thoughts. My garage is embarassing. Everyone else on my street has a relatively tidy garage. Our's is like an overstuffed closet. Maybe I'll get around to making a dent in it some day. But this too is meaningless when I consider other important persuits.

It's such a tricky balancing act! Between being and doing... and work, play and rest... and productivity and appreciation...