Before enlightenment chop wood and carry water.
After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. — Wu Li
Have you ever thought about eternity? I mean, in real time?
Having an 18-year-old in the house for two months before she leaves for college is challenging for me. To support herself in college she is working two jobs(driving my car!). She recently received a scholarship to her college of choice.(After constant nagging from me for her to apply!) And yet she has time to spend at least eight (8!) hours per day with her friends. Somehow, there is no time to clean her room or bathroom, no time to spend time with family, no time to do household chores. What is that? I think she has a warped sense of time. She thinks there will always be time to do what I want and expect her to do. She has eternity to do the things that I think are important.
Graduation thank-you notes. “Don’t worry ’bout it.”
Laundry? “I’ll take care of it later.”
Spend time with her little sister. “She’s always with her little friends.”
Clean your room. “It just gets messy again.”
Put gas in the car. “There’s enough”,
I am beginning to get a better perspective of the point of view of a procrastinator. Some people live this life like they’ll be able too take care of all the details in the next life. They act like avoiding their tasks has no bearing on the quality of THIS life. In the process, these folks let this life slip on by. I want to shout, “People, this is your life!” After going to Africa to produce two films, I had a stunning realization. THIS IS MY LIFE! If I kept waiting for others to live their lives so I could live mine, I was going to lose my life in the process.
Earlier this week, I started to have an odd thought. Does the belief in eternity give us permission to waste our time in this life? After all, eternity is the abundance of time. It is an infinite amount of time to accomplish that which is meant to be learned. I started to wonder, is it unconscious or deliberate? This avoidance or even failure to recognize the value of time. “What’s the rush in this life if I have eternity to learn my life lessons and do the work?” Perhaps, eternity is grounded in the here and now. This moment and all the other moments of this life are what makes a difference in the development of who we are, who we can be eternally.
Some might says that my daughter is living in the moment but that is not the same thing as valuing and taking advantage every moment she has in her life. The path to enlightment is in doing what needs to be done. It is in making sure that clothes and bathrooms are clean and time is spent wisely. It is time for her to chop her own wood and carry her own water. It does not help her if I spend my time doing her chores. So I have stopped doing them. It’s for her own good. And mine.