Cliches and colloquial sayings irritate me. However, I understand there is a purpose and place for everything. Despite my self-imposed standards, I am about to break my own rules. Brace yourselves because I don’t want to waste time. Time is of the essence. Time heals all wounds. Take your time. Time flies when you’re having fun. These common expressions are used often in our language.
Poets, philosophers, physicists, musicians, and others have tried to define time. Albert Einstein stated that “time is an illusion.” There is the scientific and concrete concept of time. But that is not the type of time about which I am writing today.
Have you ever experienced the out-of-body sensation of time standing still? I am guessing the answer is yes. Time freezes during shocking moments such as receiving a diagnosis. Time also seems to halt when you hear alarming, unexpected news.
Then there is the time that is fleeting. When a person is ill, you may sense that his or her exit is imminent. Perhaps you wish for a wand to make time extend and expand. Time also seems to accelerate during childhood for both parents and children. I often say to my husband that I “wish I could slow down so many phases of our kids’ lives. They’re growing up too quickly!” Sound familiar?
Our children do not realize nor grasp the swift shifts from their younger years to adulthood. We didn’t either. Our life’s clock ticks at different speeds. However, for all of us regardless of geographic location or backgrounds, we have a beginning and an end. It’s what we do in the middle that matters most.
I live as fully and presently as possible. But just when I think that I’m immersing myself in mundane moments, a conversation, a visit, or a story captures my attention. It causes me to live with even more gratitude.
Three years ago, when my beloved Grandma Pearly began to decline, I held her hand on Mother’s Day. We all thought she only had days left. (She didn’t leave us until August. She had a plan—I have no doubt.). I can still feel her hand, which told the story of her well-lived life, and sentiments shared that day will forever echo in my soul. She died the way she lived—pragmatically, honestly, and with no regrets.
This weekend I had another visit that again reinforced the old adage “quality versus quantity.” I had the gift of two hours with a person who has made an indelible impact on my life. I’ve asked to visit this giving, kind person for months. The response has often been some version of “I’m not up to it right now.”
I wondered if she might get a restraining order because of my gentle persistence! Although I wanted to show up at her house, I knew I had to respect her request for space and solitude. But I didn’t relent, and every few weeks, I texted her a simple “Thinking about you” or “How are you today?”
I sent a brief text a few days ago. And I nearly levitated when the reply appeared on the screen: “You can come Saturday or Sunday if you’d like.” I immediately rearranged my morning and apologized to my son for missing his karate testing for the first time.
There it is again. Time. Do I spend time with a mentor and friend who may not extend this offer again? Do I lose time with my first born but gain time with another dear one? As I’ve written in previous posts, I love my children beyond words. I don’t want to miss one single second of their milestones and growth.
My son said, “You’re always there, Mom. It’s totally fine. I don’t mind at all.” I still felt conflicted. After insisting my husband record the belt testing, I quickly showered and headed to my friend’s home. And I’m deeply grateful that I did.
There’s much I would like to write, but I will not because it’s not my story to share. I will say that I’ll forever cherish our conversations, hugs, and reflections. Two hours seems so short, if you only gauge your life by a watch. And sadly so many people do just that! In a society in which instant gratification is the norm, we may forget to soak up the small moments. Those become bigger as time passes. Months and years later, I often realize it’s the brief chats that stay with me. And that’s when I am again nudged to be fully where I am.
Today I made time for a person who holds a significant place in my life. We scheduled this date weeks ago. Yet I was late for her! Why? I lost track of the time because I was writing this blog. Ah the irony! I left the house, but quickly returned, because I had forgotten to bring the butterfly journal I’d intended to give to her.
On the way, I texted her (not while driving) to apologize for my disrespectful tardiness. As we always do, we shared such meaningful conversation. I am so blessed for my friend’s precious presence. Similar to me, she thrives on living her life to the fullest. Yet somehow she makes time to meet with me. Her love, candor, loyalty, and more transcend the written word. She gives me the invaluable gift we can never get back: Time.
The hours, days, weeks, and years we live may seem endless during our teen and young adult years. If you ponder how short 70, 80, and hopefully 90 years is in relation to who came before us and who will come after, it truly isn’t that long. We are often in such a race to a goal, a finish line, or some other achievement that we don’t pause. Unfortunately, sometimes our batteries run out without warning and our clock stops.
How do you use your time? With whom and where do you spend it? Time will and does end for us all. We are gifted a certain number of years in this lifetime. I am sure we all wish we could predict how long we have. Rather than worrying about the future, be here now.
I am aware that is easier said than done. I have to remind myself to do this every day. But I do know our internal clocks are ticking. I no longer wait to speak my truth, connect deeply with others, and I have even detached from those who are toxic.
Turn off the phone. Shut down the computer. Emails, texts, and social media updates can wait. We don’t know when our time is up. We don’t “find” or “have” time. We cannot necessarily stop time, but we absolutely can make the time for who and what matters. I did. I do. And I always will.