From Strength in the Storm: Transform Stress, Live in Balance & Find Peace of Mind by Eknath Easwaran
“One of the curious games I learned as a Boy Scout was musical chairs. There would be thirteen of us and only twelve chairs, and we would all circle around while someone sang our Scout song. Whenever the singer stopped, everyone had to find a seat – and of course, one boy would be without.
Each time around, one more chair would be taken away. As the game got faster and faster, we would begin to push each other and do all kinds of impossible things like trying to jump on a chair from behind, panicky because we were afraid we’d be out of the game.
Many people seem to treat life like this. Time keeps taking away the chairs, and we run around in more and more of a panic trying to get a seat – even if it means someone else will have to go without.
But in every age and culture there are a few – people like Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Mahatma Gandhi – who find this approach to life as meaningless as the game. After a few rounds of scurrying like the rest of us, they quietly step aside.
Like children, we might feel sorry for them. “Poor Francis! He can’t run around any more.” But we have to admit they seem to enjoy their choice. Great spiritual figures like these go through life without fuss and frenzy as if they had all the time in the world, and their lives seem so much richer than ours that we have to stop and wonder why. They even seem to accomplish more, so that their lives have enduring value, meaning, and the power to inspire.
Where does this sense of fullness come from? How can such people live without hurry but make each moment count? The Buddha would give a simple answer: it is because they live completely in the present – the only time there is.”