I often find myself hopping in my car to drive two or three blocks. I will toast a bagel in the morning because it would take too long to make a real breakfast. And many times I seem to prefer typing something out because it would take too long to write it out longhand on a piece of paper (or worse, I won’t check it for errors, because I’m in a hurry). This seems to be a pretty common occurrence in our society. This idea of always ‘hurrying’. Why is this? I think that our society, in the same way we are generally ruled by money (and are often poor stewards of it), we are also generally ruled by and are poor stewards of our time.
A terrific chap named Calvin Seerveld, who wrote a book a number of years ago called Rainbows for a Fallen World on the topic of the Christian aesthetics and (more importantly) on what he calls the ‘Obedient Aesthetic Life’, sets forth some wonderful principles for countering this phenomenon in our society. The long and short of what this ‘Aesthetic Life’ is, is kind of a twist on the oft-quoted phrase “Stop and smell the roses.”. In our deadline, efficiency, and generally speed obsessed world, he exhorts Christians to take time for enjoyment of God’s creation and for the smaller things in life. Take for example a family vacation. Many people who take time off for a vacation end up just as tired afterwards as they were before because they try to pack as many “restful” activities into their vacation as possible. It is hard for us to think outside of our deadline obsessed categories, and as a result we carry over those deadlines into our rest time. So what can we do about this? What are some effective ways of really countering this occurrence in our society? Well, a fellow blogger, Gideon Strauss, has been teaching a class on aesthetics and recently asked his students to write down some steps toward aesthetic obedience inspired by reading Rainbows.
I’ve reposted some highlights here for your own inspiration. Take some time and add your own!
- Study more art. (Go to art shows?)
- Attitude to others: move away from cheap shot, one-upmanship, competitive socializing – for social settings conducive to creativity.
- Read a few good novels and think about the language used.
- Make clean jokes, even if they are still awful.
- Schedule better so that I have time to enjoy the world.
- Take time out to enjoy aesthetics, such as books, artwork (painting, sculpture, etc.), films, poetry, music, et al.
- Surround yourself with color—whether its some art in your dorm room, or the blankets on your bed.
- Discover music in as many forms as possible.
- Speak with others on art (in all its forms), experience and enjoy art with other people.
- To write more, to use my talents—to the glory of God.
- To celebrate details
- Make more home-baked items other than quick already-made food.
- Eat slowly
- Light candles when even you are at home reading (for school, for enjoyment, for devotions) it quiets my heart and mind.
- Take my shoes off during worship
- Taking the bus, or walking – honestly greeting those who pass – take time to look around so you can both enjoy the creation which surrounds and so you won’t be able to miss the people which pass you.
- Take more walks.
- Use more creativity and take joy in doing simple daily activities—give my friends little presents.
- Compose a song on the harmonica.