Have you ever noticed how the more things change the more they stay the same? If our recent election didn't make that glaringly apparent nothing will. So, after all the hubbub, hoopla and ballyhoo, we're right back where we've been – a country divided. I don't know about you, but I've succumbed to the fact that much of life is beyond my control. And, I'm reminded of a quote I once read by Leonardo da Vinci that supports this: "You can never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself."
So what do I do with this realization? Well, try and live my life to best of my ability – making a contribution, adding some value and enjoying the simple things. Acclaimed apologist Ravi Zacharias once pointed out (I'm paraphrasing) that most of us are only two generations away from being irrelevant. Think about that for a moment. It's true. How much do you really know about your own family's history beyond that of your grandparents? See? So why get worked up about things beyond our control?
There's a back-and-forth, ebb-and-flow, up-and-down swing to life that seems to explain why, as I just mentioned, as things change, they seem to stay the same. For whatever reason, this makes me think of a park bench. Yes, a park bench. I can see this bench with its wooden slats supported by a concrete understructure – the slats are painted turquoise and are peeling, slightly. It sits in an idyllic setting – it's a park bench, after all. The strange thing about this bench is, when I picture it in my mind, I see all sorts of seasons and life stages as if fragmented by a kaleidoscope.
I picture a new mother taking a break on it, gently rocking her baby's stroller. I can see a bunch of tweener boys hanging all over it while reliving the big game. And I can imagine an old man sitting on it, alone with his thoughts, feeding the birds.
The bench gets to partake in all aspects of life, but I think its favorite would be supporting two lovers who sit together so engrossed in each other that they are unaware of the world around them. There they plan their future – the bench knows what's in store – it's seen it all. Trees bloom overhead providing lush shade, then autumn comes along and those leaves fall, exposing the bench to the harsh, yet temporary, condition of winter until spring reignites the never-ending cycle. The seasons of life are just like these.
It reminds me of an automobile commercial I saw recently. I don't know what vehicle was being promoted – an SUV of some sort – but in it a young man pulls up to a cabin, jumps out and is quickly followed by his
I guess the message is that the car is reliable enough to take them through all of life's stages. It reminds me of my bench. The aging dog is an obvious marking of the passage of time – it goes by so fast – and his placement in the vehicle marks life stages. It's a good visual for how although things change, they stay the same. I guess this is because the cycles stay the same but we're a little different as we go through them. It's over time that you begin to see the sameness of those cycles – I guess that's why (if we're lucky) we get wiser as we get older.
I think this is what the old man contemplates as he feeds the birds. He reflects, knowing one shouldn't waste time and energy on things beyond our control, we should be grateful for all the simple things – the non-tangibles – that's what makes life rich. We should sit back, rest easy and try to enjoy the ride.