The Last Samurai is a wonderful film about redemption, courage, and honor. Captain Nathan Algren, fighting alongside the forces of the Emperor of Japan, loses a battle to the rebel samurai. He is taken and held captive, living among them, learning their ways, and gradually coming to understand and respect their methods. In one scene, he is trying and failing to master the samurai sword. A young man named comes to his side with this advice:
Nobutada (to Algren): “Please forgive, too many mind.”
Nathan Algren: “Too many mind?”
Nobutada: “Hai. Mind the sword, mind the people watch, mind the enemy, too many mind… [pause] No mind.”
Sage advice. In my own life, I feel like I’m constantly losing the battle of just being. I’m minding the sword, the people watching, the enemy, as well as all the rest of life being thrown my direction at light speed. And all of it, every last bit, seemingly pushing me to do this or do that or just…do…something. As if by the doing of one thing I will feel better about the lack of the doing of everything else.
Where is the space in our lives to just….be? To sit quietly. To simply be somewhere. Present. Accounted for. But not doing anything. What a beautiful and elusive picture. I’m pretty sure the psalmist knew what he was asking when he said “Lead me beside still waters” as opposed to “I got it, God, no problem. I can get the whitewater trip set up this week, easy. Promo, ads, website, registration, paypal…”
Did you know that 100 years ago, the average American absorbed and processed less than 1 megabyte of external content every day? (That is, content not found in nature or personal conversations or interactions – like a street sign, billboard, music, TV, movies, etc.) Did you know that the average person in the US today processes over 3.7 terabytes of information every day? Or more accurately, attempts to process? For those keeping score at home, one terabyte is the amount of information that would be stored on 50,000 trees cut down and made into books. Two terabytes is equal to an average state university’s entire research library! And we’re trying to digest 3.7.
I have been spending a lot of time lately, thinking and processing and praying about what it means to be a man in his thirties. I don’t have a lot of conclusions yet. But one theme keeps appearing as I ask questions – being versus doing. There are loads of bible verses about abiding in Christ, finding peace in Him, taking time to pursue Him, walking with God and many other concepts that support the idea that simply being with Him is the goal. Versus trying to accomplish things for Him. Jesus made it a priority to clear his schedule, leave the busyness, abandon the crowds and find a quiet place to simply be with his Father. I can only assume he was on to something important.
In my own life, I know that when I am simply present in the fullness of who I am, good things happen. Moments when I experience God personally and intimately. When I encounter Him and find peace. The days or hours or minutes when I feel most alive. He said to me the other day, “I care far more about your heart than anything you can ever do for me.” My heart knows it’s true. Being is a daily choice to fight off each of the 3,700,000,000,000 bytes trying to steal the truth from me and replace it with doing.