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Busy, Busy, Busy

By Dr Alex Tang

I have watched people walking in Oxford Street in London, Orchard Road in Singapore and Jalan Wong Ah Fook in Johor Bahru. They all have the same look; a hurried expression on their faces as if they must rush because of a great urgency. They all have the same stance; body lean forward with rapid long steps. They do not look each other in the eyes; lonely souls in a sea of souls. Do you feel that your life is out of control? That you are on a roller coaster that is not only going faster and faster but are even now in free fall? Our lives are so crowded with meetings, appointments and do-lists. Our labor saving devices, electronic organizers and computers have failed to save us time. Even time seem to have speeded up. What, it’s September already? Didn’t we just celebrated Christmas?

Our hurried and busy lifestyle is killing us. Our bodies are so stressed that we are aging before our time. We are suffering from stress related diseases like anxiety syndromes, depression, hypertension and coronary heart disease. We destress  by escaping into a ‘make believe’ world provided by Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Others find relieve in consumerism by shopping. Most of us are addicted to caffeine, tranquilizers and Prozac. We all feel trapped in a lifestyle in which we are neither content nor happy.

The opposite of busyness is not idleness. It is a simply lifestyle. It is a life where we live for what is essential and is willing to forego the rest, no matter what our neighbors have. It demands the courage to go against the ways of the world. A simple lifestyle does not mean possessing less but being detached from our possessions. It is freedom from the chains of materialism. Once we are detached, we can let go…and find that we do not really need much to lead a contented life. Jesus taught in Matthew 6:19-21 that where our treasure is, there our heart will be. If our treasure is accumulate material things, and there is no end to that accumulation, our whole focus (heart) will be on that. That is like chasing after the wind. It is only when we focus on the eternal that we are able to detach ourselves from the chains that binds our hearts and our minds. Then we will be free and less anxious and less driven. We will have time to look around and be aware…of our own needs, our relationships and of God’s creation.

 

Slow Me Down, Lord

 

Slow me down, Lord,

Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.

Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the external reach

of time.

Give me, amidst the confusion of the day, the calmness of

the everlasting  hills.

Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the

soothing music of the singing streams that live in my

memory.

Teach me the art of taking minute vacations – of slowing

down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat

a dog, to smile at a child, to read a few lines from a

good book.

Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep

into the soil of life’s enduring values, that I may grow

toward my greater destiny.

Remind me that each day that the race is not always to the swift;

that there is more to life than increasing its speed.

Let me look forward to the towering oak and know that it grew

great and strong because it grew slowly and well.

 

I do not know who the author of this poem is so I could not attribute it. But let us use it as our prayer and for our meditation this month. We need to slow down. We do not want to move so fast that we leave our souls behind. That will be bad.

                                                                Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

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