The Ballad of the Clock and the Compass

Without a compass, life becomes a victim of time rushing away from your objectives

Sundial and Compass

Sundial and Compass

I’ve sailed the waters of the seven seas and learned to read and rely on the compass in the many hours of graveyard shift watches.

The compass told us where to head to, what direction to steer on long crossings and that any deviation would radically change the outcome of the final destination. On an Atlantic crossing one half of a degree off could make you miss your target by quite a few miles. Not until much later in life did I realize the symbolic value of the compass when setting out the course for your life.

If you want to know the time you look at a clock. Every household, every place of business, every town square or shopping mall; clocks are all over the place. Church towers, banks (though banking hours are apparently different), even some monuments have clocks on display to tell us what time of the day it is.

As a kid it is one of the first things you parents insist on teaching you. If you grew up Catholic, you knew your First Communion Reward was a wrist watch. We are taught early on the value of reading time, but not much thought is given to value of direction.

Have you noticed that there are not a lot of places that feature a compass. Yet in comparison, the compass represents your vision, values, principles, mission, conscience, direction – what you feel is important, how you lead your life. The Compass represents your soul.

The clock “merely” represents your commitments, appointments, schedules, activities – how you manage your time. Important…yes, but still second in line to the symbolic principles represented by the Compass.

I would think where you’re headed is so much more important than how fast or slow you’re moving.
Doing more things faster is no substitute for doing the right things on your road to accomplish your life’s dreams. Each and every day we’re busy making decisions about how and with whom we spend our time, from “this afternoon” to “this year.” The consequences of those choices determine the quality of our lives, but also the speed of accomplishments. Yet often there is a gap between what we’re doing with our time versus what we know is most important to reach our life’s goals.

And again these are not even the usual “I want to spend more quality time with family and friends“, or “I want to be able to retire at 40 and travel.

Those are lofty goals and worth pursuing, but only as a condition of your life’s ambitions. I work from home so I am lucky to have a lot of quality time with friends and family. My wish is to be able to squeeze a little more time out of the day for playing guitar and writing novels.  I live a block from the beautiful Amelia Island beach and my 2 year old pup looks at me every morning with that melting look. I know I would look and feel better – and live longer and in better health – if I would put exercise in my daily schedule. Yet, I often feel that I’m surrounded by clocks who’ve all decided to chime at the same time, announcing more deadlines and commitments than any one person can handle.

It is very hard to live by the laws of the clock if you have forgotten the direction on your compass. The result is often increased stress – or a gnawing feeling of discontent that explains the phenomenon of midlife crises.

Keep that in mind when deciding the relevance of time versus the conscious choice of direction.

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