Saturday, July 2, 2016
Tempus Fugit - Time Flies
It is said that time flies, and it does. Never has this been more clear to me than right now. Now, at the middle-point of my life, I can see how fast things travel. It seems like only yesterday, I was getting ready to go to Germany and arranging to get my passport. I realized today that my passport expired at the beginning of June. 10 years is a blink of an eye, but it was a productive blink.
In that time, we've had two grand kids, I found my passion (Philosophy). We have moved at least a couple of times. We've been homeless and re-established our home again. My husband and I have both changed careers. There have been ups and downs to our marriage. We have lost beloved members of our family to cancer, some of us have defeated it, and still others are fighting for their lives against it.
What hit me this morning is the lack of time that we spend with one another. In our day-to-day lives, how much time do we really spend with each other? Sure, you're constantly with people, but are you connecting with them? Are your kids watching videos or listening to their personal listening devices, or playing their video games while you drive them to yet another practice? Or are you talking to them? Are you listening to their day? Are you spending the precious time that you have doing something that builds that relationship? I spent all day with my kids yesterday, and I am pretty sure that nothing we talked about had any substance.
And what about your spouse? Do the two of you fall into bed at the end of the week, sleep like the dead, and then make love on Saturday morning (like an appointment) just so that you can say you spent quality time with them? When was the last time you asked them what they thought about the immortality of the soul or what they think it means to be married? When was the last time you made a real connection with your spouse, so much so that you really thought you got to something real? I'm betting that it wasn't recently. For me, it's not as often as I would like.
When was the last time you made real eye contact with someone you were talking to? Not business contact, but the real, personal contact that says, "I care about what you are saying to me and I care about you." It's so rare these days that it's noteworthy when it happens to me. I remember it.
As I am preparing for my father to die (and it's coming soon) and watching my grandson grow from a toddler and into a pre-schooler, I am struck by how little time we have. What do we spend our time on?
I have spent mine on making money, making a name for myself, ferrying my kids and husband all over the city. My 5 year old car has 175,000 miles on it. I put 161,000 of those on it. At a mile a minute, that's over 2,683 hours in the car. Driving. That doesn't include waiting. I have spent even more time than that sitting at a computer keyboard reading about the horrors of the world or reading about who said what to whom --essentially gossip and self-gossip.
I have also spent a good deal of time getting to know my children and my husband. I have helped them navigate the rough waters of being grown-ups. I have spent time sitting in offices listening to people pour their hearts out to me (unbidden) that they wish they'd had more time with the people that mattered to them. Those interactions are the ones that I treasure and these are the things that last.
Money and stuff can be replaced --you can have everything one day and be bankrupt the next, and on top of the world the next week. Honor is fleeting and completely in the hands of others --you can have a good name one day, and be worthless in the eyes of the world the next. Pleasure is fleeting and always leaves you wanting more.
Time, however, is completely limited. Whether we spend it glued to our screens, or glued to our chair at work, or glued to our steering wheel, is completely up to us. I have spent far too much time doing things that do not build relationships with the people who matter most to me. I have spent far too much time doing things that I really hate or that are abhorrent to me. I have not used the time that I had with my friends and family to it's best advantage choosing to be face down in my phone or occupied with what I was going to do next, or what I wished was happening instead of this interaction.
This mid-life seat at the top of the hill that allows me to see what has led to where I am and what comes next. And, like any good scout, I am paying attention to the shadowy spots, the rocks and boulders that could complicate my descent. I can collect wood and berries and hunt for food along the way, but choosing the path and companions carefully can make that job easier or harder.
How will I use my time best? Gather the right team, plan the descent and look forward to the rest at the end.
(c) Katie O'Keefe, 2016. All rights reserved.
Photo credit: "Time Flies" at QuotesGram, Chanda Enos, 2016.