This may not be an earth-shaking confession, but I’m a Paul Simon fan. In fact, “Live Rhymin'” was one of the first CDs I ever bought as a teenager. Not sure if that qualifies me as an “old soul” or not; that album was recorded the year I was born. There’s something about his style and eclectic approach to music and collaborations that I really enjoy. Songs like “Duncan”, “The Boxer”, “Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard”, “American Tune”, are songs that always bring a smile. And don’t even get me started on “You Can Call Me Al” and “Kodachrome”. For me, those songs have pure lift.
Another Paul Simon great is “Slip Slidin’ Away”. I can’t help but think about how life works and how time really is slip slidin’ away. Mathematically speaking: the more I live life, the less life there is to live. If that’s true, then the less of life I have to live, the more living I ought to be doing. As far as I’m concerned, that demands a deep and honest assessment of what actually is real and true. Calibration is really the only right outcome.
So how do we do such a thing? How do we accurately assess and qualify what registers on the scale of important and what doesn’t? Then, how do we assure that our lives are continually calibrated to live accordingly?
Let’s start by entertaining this thought: Whatever lasts longest matters most.
What in your life are you investing in that will be around long after your life is over? This might include business endeavors; like if you’re wanting to establish a family business that can be passed down to your children and their children and then to their children–a generational impact. It might include a benevolent effort that impacts the community around you. Maybe you see a clear need in your community and you can’t rest until it is addressed. So you go through the channels (or go rogue) in order to meet the needs of the underprivileged, or the marginalized, or the overlooked, or the exploited, or the malnourished, or the victims of injustice. There are dozens of people groups surrounding you right now that could benefit from a benevolent effort that not merely hands them a fish, but hands them a fishing pole. Maybe your life’s goal is to usher in the eradication of the needs of a particular people group in your own community, and THAT continues long after you’re gone. Maybe you’d rather take this “generational” thing far more literally and you look to your own children and pour all your attention and effort into them, their future, and their well-being. What can you do for them today that will establish the greatest likelihood for their success in the future? What blessings/lessons can they see in you that they will pass on to their own children and grandchildren?
Whatever lasts longest matters most. I suppose its an arguable statement, but in a general and very real sense, it can also serve to calibrate thoughts in a helpful way. I don’t know of many people who have as their aim to daily waste as much time and as many opportunities as they possibly can.
There’s a great verse in the bible that says this:
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18
I believe that no matter what your worldview or spiritual persuasion may be, these are words to consider seriously and deeply because the ramifications here are profound. If we only gauge our own sense of purpose and success on the results we see (especially immediately as we are prone to do), we will soon end up deflated, discouraged, and struggling to see the point in any of it.
So what would fixing our eyes on what is unseen look like? Here’s a crazy exercise: Examine and inventory what you can’t see as you go about your day. What if you saw yourself as a planter or a waterer in the growth process of others as opposed to seeing each day as merely a list of tasks you have to complete while other humans get in your way and slow you down? I believe that’s a great place to start seeing what is unseen and investing there. Why invest in what is unseen? Because what is unseen is what will last. And what will last is what is worth living for. For every person you see, there is a story you don’t see.
A wise sage once uttered these poignant words: “Life is like a roll of toilet paper: the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.” My friends, THAT will preach.
So what will you do today to fix your eyes on what is unseen? And what changes might need to be made in order to bring your daily life into calibration with what is truly important rather than that is merely urgent?
I don’t think Paul Simon meant for me to take this song the way I’ve taken it. I suppose that’s the upside of art: we can all take it differently. At any rate, here’s the man himself reminding you that we’re “slip slidin’ away”…