Santa Clarita Signal • Opinion Column • Ethically Speaking • Nov. 26 weekender 2016
Life in the Blender
David W. Hegg
I once joked that I’d like to write a book entitled “Life in the Blender.” We get up earlier than we want to most days, and right away the schedule shifts into hyper drive. It is as though we jump into the blender, and the circumstances of life hit the speed button, and we go whirling around all day, from this appointment to that task to this meeting to that engagement.
Along the way we get hit and cut and bruised by the insanity of the pace, and the growing incivility of our community, while finding just enough peace and value to stay in the race. At the end of the day we fall out of the blender, into the bed, and pray some rest will fit us to give it another try tomorrow. That’s life in the blender, and regardless of your station in life, you can probably relate at some level.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting we all go Thoreau and give up, drop out, and flee our lives for some cabin in the woods. While that might work for a very small number of folks, it won’t work for me. As a pastor I want to be in the middle of lives simply because that’s where the work of compassion, instruction, and relationship takes place. And I’m sure I’m only one of myriad lives that only really make sense in the midst of society, not at the fringe. Turns out the blender is where most of life happens, and those who want to get the most out of life can never abandon it. But, if we’re going to live in the blender, we had better learn some strategies for thriving rather than dying in the face of its relentless demands.
Perhaps no season is as busy as Christmas, and yet it is also a good time to discover two things that can make life in the blender not only manageable, but satisfying. First, we must understand the absolute necessity of rest. Call it Sabbath, call it a nap, call it taking a walk with your family, I don’t care. What I do know is the human body and mind function better when the theme of rest winds its way through every day.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers. And yet, in terms of efficiency per hour, the United States ranks near the bottom of the list. If you want to survive in the blender, find a way to unwind, relax, and rest every day. For some, this will entail physical exercise, turning off the television, or deciding to plant that rose garden you’ve always wanted. Whatever the means, find a way to channel your physical and mental energy away from what normally fills up your day. That’s the kind of rest I’m talking about. You’ll find this kind of rest not only rejuvenates your body, but your mind and soul as well. Christmas provides so many opportunities for this. Find some of your own.
Secondly, find some beauty in every day. By beauty I mean those things, those moments that seem to make time stand still. Over Thanksgiving our home was filled with family and friends. Two of my children came home with their spouses, and we were joined by another family whose presence in our lives has made for some wonderful moments. During those days there were several times when I just seemed to melt into the moment. It was beautiful, and that beauty infused my soul with amazing joy.
I can find the touch of beauty in lots of places, but I also know when it’s been absent for a long time. It is the moment after the symphony ends, while the conductor still has his baton in the air. It is the microsecond between the dying away of the music and the thunderous applause. It is also that memory moment when the first strains of a Christmas carol ring out, or when that smell of those cookies or Christmas bread first hits your nose. If you want to thrive in the blender, seek out beauty, grasp it firmly, and determine to inhale it. And then figure out how to hold some beauty in your eyes and heart every day. If you do you just may find that life in the blender is really a thrilling, high-spirited ride.