As told by Irene Nangoma January 28, 2013 A long time ago there was an old lady who liked digging (farming) in a very hot place. One day a small boy came to her. He explained that his master had sent him to find the old woman and to ask for time. So she wrapped the time in some paper and gave it to the boy. The boy started his long walk home. He crossed an ocean and traveled many miles. As he was walking he met a lion. The boy sang to the lion as he passed. Then the lion began to sing to the boy, urging him to watch him dance. As the boy kept walking the animal kept singing, the boy finally looked back to see the lion dancing and singing. As the boy continued his walk he found that he had lost the small package. When he returned to his master he explained the journey, the lion, and that he had lost the package containing time. The master decided to send another person. This person again traveled a long distance before reaching the woman. When he reached her, she again gave him time wrapped in paper and sent him home. This boy crossed the ocean and also traveled many miles. As he traveled he met the same lion. The lion sang and danced and tried to get the boy to turn and look. This time the boy didn’t turn back, instead he went yelling for the villagers. The villagers came to him and asked why he looked so scared. As he explained the dancing lion, the villagers were also scared, so they went out to hunt the animal. The boy continued home to his master. When he arrived, he gave the master the package. As the master unwrapped the package, day and night were created, and time began. * A common saying here is that ” God gave westerners watches, but gave Ugandan’s time.”
I’ve seen a commercial recently that has a guy playing a baseball video game, alone, in his nice urban living room. The narrator begins to talk about how when you used to play video games it meant sitting in your mom’s basement for hours, missing out on friends gatherings, but now you don’t have to choose. The guy then gets up, the game is now on his handheld device, and he is walking outside. The tag line is, “You never have to choose again.”
Recently, there has been a lot of critiquing about people who, because of the mobility of devices, the availability of wifi, and data plans, seem glued to screens. The common critique is that they are missing the life right around them, are losing the ability to be present in a situation, and to have actual relationships. While I agree with some of what critics are saying, a new thought occurred to me as I watched this commercial.
If hoarders are suffocated by their inability to choose to throw things away, then what about people who can’t stop doing. I would say its more than just playing video games while walking down the street. I’m talking about people who are loaded by the number of online and offline activities that they have said yes to.
In our striving to be both pleasing and to never let an opportunity go by, perhaps yes has lost its true power, its true value. Its a word meant to affirm approval (of my time, my thoughts, my actions). Not something done to placate someone. When we are talking about your time, your attention, your energy, what are you saying yes to? What are you allowing to take your time? What are you making time for?
Its like the common argument about the phrase “I love you.” If you say, “I love Justin Beiber,” “I love chocolate,” “I love you.” What is the true value of love? (A favorite musician AGAPE talks about this at every concert/worship service.)
I recently tried to stop saying, “I just didn’t have time.” I instead replaced the phrase with “I didn’t make time.” In reality its the truth. Everyone has the same amount of time, it is our responsibility to choose what we do with that time. We will always have to choose. If we just say yes to everything and don’t de-select the things that no longer fulfill us, we end up with a hoarded life. A life that has become cluttered with things we used to do, but can’t see giving up because we have been doing it for so long. We can’t imagine our time without that activity, but in reality we wish we didn’t have to spend more time there. Remember, when a hoarder can’t give something up, it is because they can’t let go. They are paralyzed by the inability to choose, by their inability to imagine a life without that item.
So when a marketing company tries to tell me that I don’t have to choose, that I can do everything. I tell just shake my head because I am glad to choose to just walk, just enjoy the birds, and just enjoy the fresh air without wondering if I should move my outfielders in for the next batter.