"We are closer to G-d when we are asking the questions, than when we think we have the answers" Heschel

Sunday, October 24, 2010

FNQ thought of the week (last week)

Priorities and growing up

The experience of growing up can perhaps best be described as a process whereby what was important to you yesterday is meaningless today.  To mature is to understand that that which you once considered vital and essential was in fact trivial and insignificant. This experience can be summarized in short as the continuing process of re-prioritizing.

Contrary to what most think the resource in this world which is most scarce is not oil, water or money. The most precious and valuable commodity is not something that needs to be dug for, purified or even worked hard for. The resource I am referring to is time. The average life-span is a mere 80 years and the amount which one must accomplish in that time is enough to keep them occupied for a millennium. The struggle and conflict between one's lofty goals and the limited time one has to accomplish them creates an inevitable need to prioritize.

At some point or another everyone becomes aware that there is simply not enough time to do all that they want. This, perhaps depressing, realization is an essential part of the aforementioned process of coming of age. Any adult who still thinks that they have time for everything is either completely out of touch with reality or has the goals and aspirations of a five year old. For the rest of us time is our greatest adversary as it ceaselessly ticks away leaving us no choice but to sift between the innumerable valuable and meaningful endeavors that we have.

Eventually one must decide to what they will devote their limited time. I believe the only way one can hope to make the right decision is to have a clear understanding of one's priorities. In my own life I have experienced multiple upheavals in my personal list of priorities which have forced me to make difficult choices and have unfortunately have left various meaningful and enjoyable endeavors for a future lifetime when time wont be of the essence. The experiences of becoming a husband and father have demanded that I reevaluate my priorities and make the difficult decisions to ensure that these undertakings are given paramount importance.

The challenge of prioritizing is that one's priorities aren't a static and unchanging list etched in stone that can be referred to whenever there are conflicts. The rankings are constantly changing and things can at one point in time be unimportant and trivial and yet at a a different time these same things can become essential. For example, most of the time leisure and vacation are not of high priority. However, as one becomes burnt out and the exhaustion of the daily grind sets in time off becomes essential to one's mental and physical health.

Struggling to use our time for the right things continues until the day we die. When G-d created us and placed a limit on our time in this world He implicitly obligated us to actively engage ourselves in prioritizing our goals and responsibilities. G-d never expected us to accomplish everything. He does, however, expect us to make a personal determination as to what we consider important and devote as much energy as possible towards the fulfillment of these goals.

Binyamin – always looking for a good question

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