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The Gift Of Time

When we have a "gift," it does not necessarily mean
there is a "giver." It can be something that we just "have,"
and can do with as we like. It is anything we did not buy or
make for ourselves. We can even consider that it is a curse,
rather than a gift, and we can hate every bit of it. The use
of something we have is the prerogative of he or she who has it.

Some things have designated purposes; i.e., a sofa is to
sit upon, food is to nourish our bodies (and our minds),
sleep is to rest our bodies (and our minds), shoes are to
wear, cars are to drive (for work and pleasure), books are to
read (for knowledge and pleasure), spouses are to love and
share life with, children are to love, nurture, satisfy us,
and to continue our lives on earth, bears are to be afraid of
and run from -- or shoot, fish are to catch and eat or to
watch, etc., ad infinitum.

Time, on the other hand, does not really have a
designated purpose except that we, as owners and managers,
mete it out as it suits us. Some people spend time; others
kill it. There are those who do time, those who while it
away, those who are selfish with it, those who waste it,
those who wish there were more, and those who don't want any
at all. Some of us simply don't know what it's for, haven't
taken the time to think about it, and don't know how to use
it for its highest and best uses. Like all things, time has
limits. The difference between the limits of time and the
limits of other things is that we don't know what our time
limit is. If for no other reason, this is why we should
expend our time to its highest and best uses.

In a manner similar to that with which money must be
dealt, some people have an understanding of managing their
own time, and others just use up time as it comes along.
Those of us who understand money use it wisely; if we don't,
we spend like drunken sailors, and never have any when we
need it. Those of us who understand time live every moment
to the fullest; if we don't, we flutter about like gadflys,
never accomplishing anything beyond maintenance, and worse
yet, we don't even know it.

In our present culture, we are told that we should each
"do our own thing;" but we all know that when we live in a
society, community, and/or home with other people, "our own
thing" really doesn't exist. Nor does "our own time."
Individuals, per se, are not very important (except perhaps
to themselves), and cannot make all decisions even regarding
their own lives, in any kind of organized societal framework.
Only hermits can always be "individuals" and "do their own
thing" on "their own time." If we find value in associations
with other people, instead of being "individuals," we become

We all have functions as "parts," and if we don't
function appropriately, the remaining parts of whatever
entity with which we are associated either functions poorly
or not at all.

In the newest cars (and other machines), there are parts
which function properly having been given a "boost" by
another part. There are other parts, usually the parts that
begin certain kinds of functions, which have to be told what
to do by another element or part. The reason for this is
usually that these second kinds of parts are capable of more
than one function, depending upon what other events are
occurring among the other parts. These kinds of parts are
frequently controlled by little computers, which function as
their "brains." Even they have to be given impetus (or
purpose) by some kind of controller, which can even include
the driver (or user of machines other than cars). In some
kinds of employment situations, there are positions which
require people who are "self-starters." This means that they
don't need somebody or some thing to tell them to get moving
or tell them the order in which to perform the various tasks
related to their jobs. These people are managers of a sort.
Those whom the managers manage are usually not "self-
starters." That doesn't necessarily mean they lack intelli-
gence; it just means that they require some kind of boost or
impetus to get started. It's like kick-starting one's heart
with coffee.

Some people can drive (or use machines) well "naturally"
and others have to be taught. Some kind of teaching is
almost the same as "programming," and is, in fact, termed
"programming" in certain instances. We frequently do not
know what it is that we need to be taught, and are not aware
that we are capable of learning (or being programmed to do)
virtually anything, so long as it is not against our innate
moral persuasion. Generally, once we have a handle on under-
standing that there are many ways to accomplish certain deeds
or feats, it is fairly easy to learn the ways. It is almost
like learning the rules of a game. However, we have to first
be aware of (or apprised of) the fact that there are rules,
and that we should give some thought to both the rules
themselves and the reasons for their being.

Specific actions result in specific reactions. Every
behavior has a natural consequence. Some behaviors have a
choice of several natural consequences. These natural
consequences are often obvious, usually predictable, and
predicting them can be learned. Learning to predict natural
consequences and determining future behavior by predicting
the natural consequence/s is "judgment." Verbalizing the
obvious is the first step of this kind of education.
It is obvious that if we feel thirst and we therefore
drink, our thirst will be slaked, and we will no longer have
the need for liquid--at least for a reasonable period. We
know without explanation that striking a match will result in
fire. We don't need to know the chemical reaction of
combining whatever matches are made of with friction--we
just need to know that the natural consequence of striking a
match is fire. We do need to learn the circumstances under
which that particular behavior is appropriate, and how to
deal with that consequence in a satisfying, responsible,
manner. (Those of us who have behaved responsibly already
know that satisfaction is the natural consequence of
performing responsibly.)

One of the natural consequences of choosing to live in a
societal framework is responsibility toward others. There
are many kinds and many degrees of communal responsibilities,
ranging from learning about and treating our planet kindly,
to patriotism toward our country, assuming the duties of
citizenship, being helpful to neighbors, and performing our
jobs to the best of our ability.

In order to perform our jobs to the best of our ability,
we must define "job." It is probably best defined as that
which we do in order to earn (and deserve) whatever benefits
the life we have provides. We earn an economic living by
being paid money (for our work) which we need to maintain our
very survival. We work in different settings; some of us
work in our homes and some of have a separate workplace.
Whatever kind of work we do is our "job," whether it be at
home or outside the home. If we do well at our jobs, we have
earned our right to economic survival; if we do our jobs
poorly, we become sponges, and we do not have the right to
the economic benefits we reap. If we choose the latter
circumstance, we assume the risk of the natural consequences
of our behavior, which can mean that our position is in
danger of being lost.

We earn a spiritual living by performing well in our
personal and communal/societal relationships. If we perform
poorly in our relationships, we assume the risk of that
natural consequence, which is spiritual emptiness. Our lives
then become either play-acting, during which we pretend that
everything's rosy, or, we become spiritual outcasts as a
prelude to being alone.

Similarly to the big spender who has empty pockets and
the gadfly who has neither time nor accomplishment, those who
deny their spiritual living have no spirit. "Nothingness" is
the designation of the quality of their lives, and that
circumstance is as hopeless as it sounds. The buzz word for
this is "meaningless." That is a misnomer, because every-
thing has some kind of meaning; "nothingness" means "lack,
void, and 'nevermore'," as the raven quoth.

"Satisfaction" or "contentment" are valid feelings to
describe or redefine the buzz word, "meaningful." If our
feelings include satisfaction and/or contentment, then we can
say that we are "happy." Like a recipe for bread, wherein
certain ingredients are necessary components of the finished
product, certain ingredients must needs be included in one's
life in order to produce satisfaction, contentment, and/or
that element which we all seek (and few of us can define),

A philosopher defined happiness as "pleasure," and he
defined pleasure as "the absence of pain." This "pain"
includes that of a spiritual nature as well as the less-
important type, which is physical. There is also probably a
kind of "limbo," which is void of feeling. Many people exist
in that state. Some of us believe that to feel pain is
better than not to feel anything at all. At least the
feeling of pain provides evidence that one is alive. Those
of us who have experienced periods of time during which we
were bereft of feeling are well aware that nothingness is a
completely miserable circumstance--but we are not aware of it
while we are in that state. When the clouds lift and our
spirits return, we realize how utterly terrible it was to be
empty, and what a serious waste of time it was.

From this point of view, the prudent and proper use of
time is closely related to the prudent and proper way to live
one's life. There are those of us who don't need to discuss
or wonder or learn what is considered prudent and proper, and
there are others of us who need to be given the rules, and
have them explained. Their question is often, "What am I
supposed to do?" What does "supposed" mean, and who defines
it? Does it mean "designated," "destined," "commanded," "in-
tended?" If any of those answers are deemed to be
appropriate, then by whom or what element are we designated,
destined, commanded, or intended?

We really choose what we are "supposed" to do, but we
often choose our lot without enough information to make a
reasonable election. Some of us sort of "fall into" our
positions, seemingly by "fate." We are "in the right place
at the right time" or "we know the 'right' people," or
nature's trap called "sex" might be the element that caused
us to have the opportunity to make the choices we made. Once
we have made our choices, we are responsible to make our
position -- our fated lots -- function as well as possible,
so that the natural consequences of our behavior, under our
given circumstances, are pleasurable, rather than painful.

The highest and best of all human characteristics is
kindness. However, if we only demonstrate kindness to our-
selves, that quality has fallen outside the definition (the
boundaries) of kindness, and it becomes, instead, avarice.
We are not born for ourselves alone. We are not in this life
alone. As social beings, we are with others, and that makes
us "parts" of the whole of civilization. As such, we are
"supposed" to expend our time, our lives, in the interests of
others. By so doing, and only by so doing, can we reach the
state of pleasure or "happiness" we so fiercely desire.

The difficulties here are in deciding what is the
"interest of others," and "which others do we -- for lack of
a fancier word -- 'serve'?" How do we serve others in such a
way that we, also, are satisfied (pleasured)? The physician
heals the ailing, which gives the ailing person a chance at
exchanging physical pain for the absence thereof, and gives
the physician a feeling of satisfaction for a "job well
done," as well as, of course, some money for having performed
a valuable service. The physician can then contribute to the
education of his/her children, which benefits the children,
and which provides the physician some peace of mind in the
knowledge that his children will be better able to care for
themselves when they are grown.

The janitor provides a clean workplace or living space
for those who use their time for things the janitor doesn't
know how to do. The persons for whom the janitor cleans
benefit by having their time freed from those tasks, and the
janitor benefits by knowing that his/her work has thereby
assisted in the work of his/her employers. The janitor, of
course is paid, which provides him/her the wherewithal to
attend to the needs of his/her family, thereby giving the
janitor a similar type of satisfaction as experienced by the

There are some types of work for which one does not have
to qualify: being a spouse is one type. Virtually anybody
who wants to, or doesn't want to, can choose to become a
spouse. Having made this particular choice, one will have
answered many of the questions relating to "to whom is one
supposed to be kind," and "whose interests are to be served?"
Nature gave us the trap with which to take this option, but
nature did not give us the information we need to be success-
ful in this "job."

Sex being the trap with which we snagged the position of
spouse, is closely related to self-interest, which is a trap
in which we snare ourselves. In the ideal marriage, which
probably doesn't exist in our culture, both spouses serve one
another. When they have children, they serve the children
and they still serve one another.

In most instances, the adults, being wiser than the
children, know what the childrens' needs are, and know what
is best for them. The children also have wants, and the
children know more about those wants than the adults do. It
is the job of the adults to attempt to fulfill all the child-
rens' needs, and to discern, from the childrens' points of
view, which of their wants are important to the children, and
to provide as much of what they want as is reasonable. There
is one item which can fulfill both a want and a need simul-
taneously; that item is time.

Being a marriage partner, the adults know their partners
well enough to know what their needs are. Adults are usually
mature enough to be able to tell their partners what their
wants are. With the knowledge of one's partner's needs and
wants, the other partner should be able to serve his/her
partner in a manner that is satisfying for both partners.
Here, the item which fulfills both wants and needs is, again,

Sitting beside a loved one while watching television is
not filling the loved one's need. The wife who needs some of
her husband's time is not being well-served by the husband
who invites her to watch wrestling with him. The husband who
needs some of his wife's time is equally not well-served by
being allowed in the same room while she vacuums the carpet,
or reads. Children do not derive companionship or community
with the parent who allows the children to remain in the area
while the parent is occupied with a project of his/her own.
To give the gift of time to another person requires doing
what the other person wants and needs, and it means focusing
on the person; not on some other entity.

Similarly, when somebody wants to talk with another
person, the wantor needs and wants to choose the subject or
the nature of the conversation. The wantor neither needs nor
wants a treatise on the beliefs and opinions of the wantee.
It is easy to make another person (child or adult) feel good
by discussing things or doing things that interest the other
person. By making another person feel good, one has spent
time well. By serving one's own interest, however, both
party's time has been wasted. We really receive only by
giving of ourselves.

Since this functions in all directions, all the
individuals, both wantors and wantees, are ultimately served,
and all parties have provided valuable gifts.
Gifts of time.

Using time to its best and highest purpose.



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