Time to Reconnect With the ‘Real World’

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Well I’m not the kind to live in the past
The years run too short and the days too fast
The things you lean on are the things that don’t last
Well it’s just now and then my line gets cast into these
Time passages
There’s something back here that you left behind
Oh time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight
Time Passages-Al Stewart

The song “Time Passages”, by English artist Al Stewart, did fairly well on the pop music charts in 1978. It is a surprisingly direct commentary (for a pop song) about the passage of time, and the danger that you and I may miss “the forest for the trees” when it comes to embracing what has happened, and how our actions at the time color our memories, and our responses now.

There is individual memory and institutional memory. If you’re of a “certain age”, you may have memories of routines and of expectations of behavior, but also of moments of freedom, fancy, and flight. But summertime memories are different. We went outside, and stayed outside until we were called in for meals or as it was getting dark. At least as I remember it, everyone watched out for each other, and there was not a need for “helicopter” anyone to oversee and navigate issues for children.

How times have changed. I do believe the ascent of social media and of almost slavish devotion to digital devices of all sorts has vastly changed the dynamic. Some young people, not all, of course, but some apparently cannot function without being figuratively (and sometimes physically) attached at the hip to a device. It boggles the mind to observe the attempts to multi-task attention to detail. It does not work, period.

A larger issue, to me, is the consequence of strictly adhering to the present, as presented on screen, with little thought of the future, and more ominous, dismissal of the past.

We must keep the past in our hearts and in our souls. We have learned lessons applicable now, we have the foundations of faith, morality, cooperation, empathy, and hope from our myriad experiences from childhood, into the present age. This is hardly groundbreaking news, but it seems appropriate to remind ourselves that young people may need the gentle nudge that life did not start at this moment, and it will not end when you move off your phone. How we survive is determined by how we solved a problem or lent an ear at an appropriate moment.We are not single entities. We are a society, yes, with individuals, but a society where all sorts of learned behaviors (and more than a few involuntary ones) color what we will do when called to act. Age may be a beneficiary when it comes to offering “free advice” (or standing back and just listening).

Life will proceed as it will according to God’s plan, not ours. You will not find that guidance on a phone, but you will as you “listen with the ear of your heart.”

Michael Throop