My son has a glassblowing company in a part of Philadelphia that has always seemed to me to be far from the section of Philadelphia where he resides. So I said to him last time we met, “It must take you a long time to get to and from work every day, especially in rush hour.” He replied, “Not at all. Just a straight shot up Route 95.” “About 20 minutes then?” I guessed. “Nope. Just two-and-a-half songs.”
My son is famously laconic, so the conversation ended there. Nevertheless, it was enough to afford me a small glimpse into his perspective on life—or at least on driving to the studio. I figure two-and-a-half songs on the iPod to be roughly 10 minutes, if the stuff Gen Xers listen to goes by the same rules as when I was a top-40 junkie.
But what intrigues me is the notion that one can measure out time in very different ways. One can choose to count the miles from Girard Avenue to State Road, one can look every few seconds at the clock on the dashboard, one can tailgate the car ahead nervously, thinking about all the other things one would prefer to be doing. Or (my son’s choice) one can make up one’s mind to enjoy the ride and make the most of it. That is to say, one can sing along to the two-and-a-half songs.
My mind leapt to deeper things, things pertaining to our Christian sojourn here until Christ returns or calls us home. English philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote that life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” This is one way to look at it, of course, and certainly it overlaps with Jesus’ own characterization that “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33).
But there is much to be enjoyed in this world. Even the dour Koheleth of Ecclesiastes said:
“Go, eat your bread in joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart. … Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:7, 9).
I find that even the “tribulation” Jesus spoke of is transformed once we understand that God is with us and for us through it all.