Everyone comes to what they call a “crossroads” in their life, where they really start to think a little deeper about their own corner of the world.
At the moment, I’m facing a virtual spaghetti bowl of happenings that have done this. My cousin, who learned last year she had lung cancer, got news it was gone early in the holiday season. This month, she discovered the cancer is back, and she has “maybe a year” left to live.
My father is turning 80 this year, and is in the hospital having a second hip surgery as I write this. He has so far beaten cancer twice, but he is quickly becoming a cyborg. His advanced age selfishly concerns me, as when the day comes he can no longer overcome these health obstacles, there are no more parents or grandparents of mine still living. It makes me feel like I’m looking over a cliff into that unknown, frightening abyss.
My oldest daughter has turned 16, and is now driving. Next year will be her last in high school. My youngest is at the age where she can’t wait to get older because next year she will be “in the double digits” when she turns 10.
All this has had me thinking a bunch about that four-letter word, “Time.”
See, I’m turning 50 in April. I don’t feel any different, but often with this milestone comes the clichéd, idiocy of the “Over the Hill,” or “You’re old now,” novelty cards and comments. I have never found these clever. If Will Smith can bungee jump the Grand Canyon on his 50th, I’m not ceding to any imaginary milestone based on a birthday number that ends in a zero.
“You can’t experience the joy that is intended for you in life if you don’t go,” Smith said after the jump. “You gotta go, man!”
Since writing my thoughts down is the best way for me to remember things, I felt I would write just a couple of them on the ever-persistent, always “in your face” issue of time. I’m not basing this story on any polls, research, or professional opinions about time management, only my own thoughts (and perhaps those of my inner time traveler).
First, time is not your friend, nor does it fight us. It is merely an associate of ours “doing its job.” You can’t get it to slow down or change its direction, but you can work with it. If we learn to budget it better, it won’t take over our lives.
If we’re in a situation where we don’t have to worry about time, well (this should go without saying) then don’t worry about time. If you don’t have to be anywhere, don’t look at your phone or watch every five minutes during a conversation with a friend or a game night with the family. Time may always be around us, but it doesn’t have to bully into everything.
Everyone knows our time on this planet is finite. Whether you believe in a deity and afterlife (I do) or don’t feel there is anything after this, it has nothing to do with it. Our time here is limited. Don’t waste it. Don’t put off doing something we’ve always wanted to do if we are able to do it. Avoid falling into the “I’ll travel when I’m older” or “I’ll visit that person or place when I have a little more money” trap. I understand we can’t always pack up and go, but keep in mind you might not get that chance “later.” Time has a way of catching up to us, and it has other plans.
Also, it is important to always have a dream, but don’t let your dream get in the way of the real wonders of your world and life that are all around you. I’ve written about this in my “Things We Can Learn From Fictional Villains,” and even heard actor Billy Boyd talk about this last year, so I won’t bore you with another explanation of this.
Finally, time travel doesn’t exist. At least not yet. Remember this when we make any decision that we might wish we could go back and “do over.” Obviously, we are going to make mistakes and bad decisions in our lives, but we can control many of the little ones before they happen. Don’t send that mean-spirited Tweet to a faceless person whose opinion (on anything from politics to who the best Batman was) you disagree with just to be hurtful. Healthy debate is a good thing, but nasty personal barbs aren’t. They are a waste of our time.
When we are dealing with friends and loved one in person, don’t feel we have to point out every little flaw or idiosyncrasy. They won’t listen to you when there is a big problem that needs addressing.
On the flip side, don’t hesitate to give a compliment or tell someone you love them, or even just appreciate something they’ve done. We have an unlimited resource or compliments in our personal stash. Don’t hoard them.
We can’t turn back time like Doctor Strange or jump in our TARDIS to “say that thing we wish we had said” or “take back that thing that could have been left unsaid.” We only have now. Don’t make this time be a bad memory from the past that will make your own future less desirable.
Also, know we are going to have unfortunate things happen to us. Some may be tragic and hard to overcome, but when it comes to “sweating the small stuff,” that’s another issue. Not every problem is worth carrying with you long after they happen. Release resentment, grudges, and petty arguments from your hold. Your time is too valuable to be chained to them.
In Tim Burton’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, Time was personified. He was depicted as a very task-focused and persistent being. He was first thought to be a “thief and a villain,” because he didn’t take into consideration what was happening in that person’s life before, but much like the Grim Reaper, “Time Waits for No One.”
When you’re time is up… it’s up.
If I were to give Time a more “corporeal” form, as it were, it would be of a green parrot. Ever since I moved back here to the Southwest nearly 20 years ago, I heard about this flock of wild green monk parrots or a similar species that flew off course and have since made their home in my city’s Upper Valley near where I live.
These birds aren’t exactly the common desert wild bird, and I was excited to set out and see if I could find them. People kept telling me they saw them in a neighbor’s yard or near the river, but for years I never even saw a picture of one.
One afternoon, I heard a weird squawking coming from the back yard, and when I stepped outside I saw a tree filled with bright, green parrots. They had finally come to see me.
I managed to get a few pictures, but they didn’t stick around more than a few minutes. They returned again a few days later, but only for a minute or two.
Now, I see them every couple of weeks flying overhead. They make noise no other bird in the area makes, and they motor pretty quickly. When and if I’m lucky, I can catch a glimpse.
Time flies… fast!
Make sure to always be aware of it, appreciate it, and never waste the opportunity to enjoy the special moments it gives you.
Even Alice finally agreed, “Time is a gift. Every minute. Every second.”
Use your time well.