Life is long… and short

Is it possible for two seemingly opposite statements to both be true? On the face of it, the answer would be no, but not so fast. We deal with such incongruities all the time.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting that as a true statement. Yet, we’ve all experienced the veracity of “out of sight, out of mind.”

Christian theology is filled with such contradictions. God is one but God is three. We have free will, but God is sovereign and predetermines our eternal fates.

When it comes to one particular adage, I can’t disagree with one of my favorite characters from another of my favorite under-appreciated movies: Lamarr from “That Thing You Do” says:

"Slow down, young squire. Life is long."
“Hey, hey, hey! Slow down there, young squire. Life is long.”

Lots of folks say life is fleeting and you have to squeeze as much into every moment as possible. But if Lamarr says life is long, who am I to disagree? He’s one of my heroes and he’s never steered me wrong. Think about the last time you were in the dentist chair. Did life go by fast? Or when you’re waiting for the results of a job application or medical test? Or for the writers out there, how about when you’re waiting for a response to a query letter?

In those cases, and in many others, life is indeed looooooooooooooooooong.

At the same time, life is way too short. If you have kids, you know exactly what I’m talking about. One day, they’re potty-training, seemingly the next, they’re finishing a doctoral thesis on string theory (or string cheese; I can never tell the difference). Life couldn’t go any faster than that.

I’m not the first and I won’t be the last to declare how life speeds up as you age. The more years behind you, the shorter the ones ahead. A classic example: When I was in school, summer lasted forever. Those two months, after all, were a significant percentage of my life. Now they represent a miniscule fraction of the whole and the season’s gone before I’ve had time to make vacation plans.

None of this is new; everyone pays lip service to it. But few behave any differently in the face of the increasing velocity of life. Ironically, Lamarr’s advice applies here as well, “Slow down, young squire.” Appreciate the fleeting moment. Get off the information superhighway.

Instead of giving more and creating more, we (myself included) bury ourselves, our gifts, and our talents in a jumble of iDevices, sports, lame TV and movies, innumerable tweets, and more added to the mess every day.

To once more quote the incomparable Lamarr, “Now where I come from, that just ain’t right.”

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