Time, time, time is on my mind, yes it is
Have you ever wondered about how much time you have left and what you might do with that time? Or how you’ve spent the time you’ve had? I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about time lately. For years I’ve done a timeline exercise with both students and clients. You draw a line horizontally on a sheet of paper and on the far left you put the year you were born, on the far right you put the year you want to depart the earth. This is of course a hope and not a reality, but it’s thought provoking no matter what. Then you draw a line vertically representing the current year. You place accomplishments on the left side and hopes and dreams on the right. When I first did this activity in my late 20’s, early 30’s there was so much time ahead of me and my list of goals and dreams was endless. What was the rush? I had all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted. Time was on my side. A few weeks ago I did this very exercise with my Korean college students and I was drawing my timeline on the whiteboard to demonstrate how it was done. When I put the year I was born, 1949, on the board, the students gasped. The reality of my age was right there on the whiteboard. I continued on, placing the year 2039 on the other end, optimistically hoping for 90. What shocked me was the amount of time I perceived I had left against the reality of where the vertical line was actually placed. Have I done those things that were on my list 30 or 40 years ago? I know I can’t play the piano and I haven’t written a book. I do have two amazing sons, two incredible grandchildren, perhaps more to come, a supportive and loving sister, I’ve traveled the world, found the love of my life, run my own business more than once and I have a wonderful network of amazing friends that live and work all over the globe. Now the question is, in the words of Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” It’s never to late to ask that question. So many things continue to happen in my life that I never anticipated or planned for and some of those are the experiences that I cherish, the ones that teach me the most.
There was a time in my life when my age was merely a number and aging was a concept with little or no reality. Today time has a new meaning. It’s precious and has an end, one that, although hopefully far off, is not an endless wave of life’s incredible events.
When I talk about these thoughts at work, colleagues often respond with supportive comments like, “You’re so active, you inspire me, I hope I’m like you when I reach your age.” That may sound like music to my ears until I get out of bed each morning and the time it takes for my muscles to all start working in harmony is getting longer and longer. Sure I do yoga once a week, I can go out and jog 10 miles or swim for an hour in the local pool, but that doesn’t change the fact that these bones are 64 years old and have a lot of miles on them.
Recently I was reminded of the frailty of life and the immediacy to not wait to do the things that are important and some that aren’t so important. With all of this in mind, I am finishing my second semester and almost a year in Korea and we are headed to Mexico for 5 weeks in the sun. My plan is to do nothing but warm my bones, read some books, write some blogs, eat good food, drink good wine, swim and jog, and tell my husband how much I love and appreciate him. As life moves at a fast pace and months turn into years, then decades I want to make the most of the time I have left on the earth. I no longer have the pressure that each career decisions matter. It’s all for fun now and if it stops being fun I’ll find something else. Forgiveness is more important and humility is front and center.
As we head to Mexico I will remember to slow the pace down, but not so much that I miss what this adventure has to offer. Each time we travel I realize I may not get back to this place again.
Time is important and there is still so much left to do. Time may not be on my side but it is truly on my mind. In the end I want to look back and know that I spent this one wild and precious life on the things that really matter. Steve, I love you.
Stay in touch, and I will too. Have joyous holidays and a wonderful start to the New Year.
With love and gratitude