“Don’t tell me not to burn the candle at both ends…tell me where to get more wax” – recent Frank and Ernest cartoon
I love the daily newspaper cartoons and increasingly find that I can identify with a few of them, like Frank and Ernest or perhaps Pluggers. Today’s little quote came from the Frank and Ernest cartoon in one of our local papers. I suspect that many of us share the feeling every now and then that we are burning the candle at both ends and need to find more wax. Time seems to be increasingly fleeting as I age. Perhaps that is because I have shortened the day a bit to get to bed earlier; but I think it is also that the pace of life has quickened, though without any particular cause that I can discern. Tell me where to get more wax.
I have the suspicion that one major culprit in the seeming loss of time is the demanding little thief in my hand (or pocket) – my smart phone. If the candle wasn’t burning at the other end before, it certainly was ignited by the constant need to feel connected and to react in real-time to the happenings, messages and information that is there on my phone. Sneaking a peak at the phone to see if there are new messages or emails is a national pass time. In fact the ringing and buzzing usually are occurring all around us, no matter where we are. Even in times of relative inactivity, we have become so used to the constant demands of our phones that “phantom buzzing” has become a shared phenomenon for many.
We have reached the point where it seems no event is too important not to be interrupted to answer our phones – weddings, funerals, whatever, give way to the demands of the phone for attention. So, that is certainly one way in which we are burning the candle at both ends. Tell me where to get more wax.
Another issue demanding of our time and attention is the fact that so many are now forced working harder or longer or at multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Many young couples don’t have the time or energy to have children because both are working one or two jobs, just trying to pay the bills. Quite a few of these younger couples would also like to have their own homes, but the crushing debt of college loans prevents them from even considering it. Tell me where to get more wax.
For many, in what should be the prime of their lives, the lure of having it all has put them in another debit-ridden hole. The big house, the country club membership, the new cars, the latest technologies and paying for the children that they finally had mean that they too must burn the candle at both ends – working extra late or on weekends, traveling often or perhaps just trying to be the perfect parents by getting their kids involved in all of the sports and activities that are trendy or expected. Soccer (or baseball) moms and dads give way to hockey (or basketball) or perhaps dance or gymnastics in a never ending effort to give their children what they never had. In reality, what the children often want is the time with their parents without planned activities – something that they promise themselves they will give to their children. Tell me where to get more wax.
What is the answer to this dilemma? I think it is more about learning how to deal with life than trying to slow life down or seeking more wax for the candle. It is about learning to have a sense of satisfaction with what you have, rather than spending all of your time and energy chasing what you don’t have. It is about understanding and accepting that you really can’t change anything except how you react to everything. It is about getting your priorities straight and pursuing them instead of the attractive distractions that beckon from just beyond our reach. For many of us that begins with having a solid foundation of faith upon which to build our lives. If you have that, you will no longer be saying tell me where to get more wax; but rather will find joy and satisfaction from making the best use of the wax that God has given you. In the end your earthly candle will always burn out; but, your light need never be extinguished; it will just move to a new place; one where there is no darkness and endless wax.
So, slow down, take the time to get right with God and then burn happily the wax that you have been given, secure in the understanding that you don’t need more wax; you just need to make the best use of the wax that you have. Have a great and bright day!