T is for Time

“I wish I had more time.”

How many times in books or movies is that line employed at the end of a life?  The husband who spent his days traveling and staying late at the office–always trying to get just a little bit more ahead.  The procrastinator who thought she’d write her parents or her friends–tomorrow.  She’d call tomorrow.  She’d send flowers tomorrow.  The young man who thought he had a lifetime ahead of him, gasping for breath in a hospital room, the victim of a hit and run on his way across the street.  The child who should have had a lifetime before cancer ravaged her body at the tender age of three.

Time.  Our days are numbered.  Mine, yours, your family’s, my family’s.  We don’t get an infinite number of days.  We hear and give such conflicting advice.  To the young man who can’t decide if he’s ready to take the plunge into matrimony, we tell him he’s young and has a lifetime ahead of him.  Don’t rush things.  Enjoy the benefits of single hood now.  Marry in a year or ten.  To the young woman who can’t decide if she should take that year abroad or stay home and close to her family, we tell her to go.  Enjoy herself.  She’ll never have that opportunity again.

Those things are true.  She probably won’t have that opportunity again.  He probably does have a lifetime ahead of him.  The man in his late thirties probably does have time to establish himself in a new career.  The new mother probably does have the next twenty years with that baby.  She can afford to miss a weekend now.  Probably.

The problem is, we can’t know if any of that is true.  We can only know today.  We can only pray about today.  We can only try to make wise decisions based upon today’s knowledge and that is where the problem splits into two problems.  If we choose to live as if today is our last day, we will never prepare for tomorrow.  If we choose to live assuming tomorrow will come, we can squander today.  And, we have to live with the consequences of those choices.  The young man might not have her next year.  Her days might be coming to a close.  The young woman might find herself dying alone on the other side of the world, her family frantically scrounging the money to get to her in time.  You can’t make decisions based upon fear… and neither can you ignore the fact that you just don’t know.

Time is ticking past… day by very slow day.  Hour by whizzing hour.  It’s relentlessly slow and dizzyingly swift.  How we spend it… that is the question.

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