Time is a crook.

Humphrey Bogart reportedly hated the film Beat the Devil because he lost money on it.  One might say that the script was written by Truman Capote and John Huston, except they apparently were making it up as they went along.  And it shows.  The only thing I like about the film is a line spoken by Peter Lorre’s character O’Hara.

Time. Time. What is time? Swiss manufacture it. French hoard it. Italians squander it. Americans say it is money. Hindus say it does not exist. Do you know what I say? I say time is a crook.

Time is much on my mind as the months whiz by towards the day that Anne Mei leaves for college and after that towards my 72nd birthday in December.  It’s July 8 already.  Someone stole the first six months of 2015.

I think that, and then I wonder if that’s how I’ll feel when I’m 82 like my friend who just visited.

It was entirely appropriate then that Swamiwahanse Ariyadewa called last night.  He’s the Sri Lankan Buddhist monk whom I’ve been helping with his English.  English is becoming the primary language of the children of his center so we frequently work on his sermons in English.  I find the language of most translations of Buddhist scriptures very awkward with many words that Americans would never use or even understand.  He must have heard me because he was calling to ask me which translation of a particular teaching sounded better.  Neither worked consistently well all the way through so he asked me to see if I could put it into plain English.  By the time I finished playing with four different translations I realized that this lesson was meant for me today.

Do not wish for what used to be.
Do not hope for what will be.
What is past is dead and gone
And the future hasn’t come yet.

Look deeply into what’s right in front of you.
See what’s here and now,
Know it without moving around or getting upset:
that’s how you develop insight from the heart.

Eagerly do
what should be done today.
For—who knows?—tomorrow
You may die.

You can’t bargain with Death
to keep him and his armies away.

So, the Peaceful Sage tells us that
Each day that you live this way, with all your heart,
Never letting up by day or night,
Is a great day.

My challenge when we meet tomorrow will be to explain why I think one practical application of this teaching might be the American saying, “Keep your eye on the ball.”  I hope he’s played cricket.

In any case, O’Hara was right whether he meant it this way or not.  Take your eye off the ball.  Think about passing time instead of what you’re doing today.  And you miss the ball.  You miss today.  Thinking about passing time steals today.

Leave a Reply

(*) Required, Your email will not be published