The Length of Days

Posted on January 7, 2015 under Storytelling with no comments yet


 All we are is dust in the wind



“Time is on my side…”

Time is on My Side – Jerry Ragovoy (a.k.a. Norman Meade); performed by The Rolling Stones

When I was young, I listened to this song, hummed it on my way to school and occasionally belted out a line or two.  And I absolutely believed in the title.  When you are a teenager, you think time lasts forever and that you will be running shotgun.  And then you find yourself hurtling toward eternity.

I stood at the end of an empty grave recently waiting for the burial of an elderly family member.  It was a spectacular fall day and the brief ceremony was definitely a celebration of a long, full life.  The deceased, my wife’s great aunt, was a wonderful lady who passed away just shy of her 98th birthday.  She had been blessed with excellent health for most of her life until her memory left the present to dwell in the past.  No doubt a happier, simpler time.

While waiting for the funeral party to assemble, I glanced at the headstone next to us.  Tammy had only lived five years, ninety two less than Aunt Mary Ann.  She left this earth in 1969.

She may have witnessed Neil Armstrong walking on the moon and may have wondered if she too might reach for the stars.  But this was not to be; in this world, anyway.

None of us know the exact number of days we will be granted.

Many of us are old fashioned and still like to have a calendar or two hanging in our kitchens or at the office.  Calendars mark the passage of time and are oh so important to give us visual reminders of things we need to do and places we need to be.  And while we appreciate calendars given to us by local businesses (yes, some of them still do that), it is far more common to see a calendar adorned with pictures of our grandchildren, pets or handsome firemen.

The problem is, The Rolling Stones have it all wrong.  Time is not on our side.

While it can be strenuously argued that a day still has 24 hours, a week 7 days and a year 365 days, why does it seem like time is hurtling along like an out of control roller coaster?

Another November 22nd has come and gone and I once again remember with absolute clarity running home from school after hearing about the assassination of JFK in Dallas.  I can scarcely believe that I graduated from university 41 years ago and that my oldest child is 31.

Maybe Jim Croce had it right.  “If I could save time in a bottle….”

The happiest people I know live in the present.  They don’t lament the past or fret about the future.

Our wise and long departed high school English teacher, K.M. MacDonald, was forever exhorting us to seize each day.  She was the first person to make many of us aware of the Latin expression “carpe diem”.

Another year is just about over.  December will once again give us a few days respite as the Christmas season draws to a close.   And a new year will dawn again on January 1st.

Give the best gift possible this year: your time.  Visit the sick, volunteer for the hot meal program, support a local charity.  Read to a child, sing for the heck of it, go outside and take a big, deep breath.

I take it all back.  Time is on our side.

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