Use your gift of time wisely

Even though I’m this side of 60, I’ve never really felt old. With one exception, that is. And that exception was many years ago.
I’d gone to school most of my life, and taught the rest of it. I’d travelled in the summers, and served in many places of need. I’d worked with farm migrants on the east coast and children on Indian reservations in northern Minnesota. I knew how to navigate New York City and Chicago on my own.
I felt grown-up and maybe just a little worldly-wise. And now I was celebrating my 25th birthday.
Up until that day, I had counted my age in years. But suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks that from now on, I would need to mark time in centuries for I had lived one-fourth of a century.
The next major marker would be a half-century.
As the truth sank in, I was filled with panic about time.
Time flies, I acknowledged. That’s it. And no matter what you do, you can’t hang on to it. You can’t stop it. You can’t extend it by one minute. And what’s more, as it flies, it threatens to steal the life you love.
“Time flies” wrote Shakespeare more than 300 years ago. And 200 years before that, Chaucer had written, “Ay fleeth the tyme.”
Then going back even further to the first century A.D. and the first century B.C., Ovid lamented time as “the devourer of all things” whiled Virgil had written, “Time is flying never to return.”
It was Andrew Marvell in the 17th century who called time a “wing-ed chariot.”
A wing-ed chariot that can’t be stopped. We would stop time if we could, or at least slow it down. Make the years last twice as long, and give the days an extra hour.
Extend the joy of living. Secure the future. We’d love to do all those things, but the truth is we can’t.
We can control a lot of things in life. How we spend our money. What trees we plant in our yards. Who we choose for friends. What books we read. Yes, in many ways we can shape the lives we want, but we can’t do a single thing about the pressing on of time.
There’s only one thing we can do with time and that’s to say thank you for the gift and use it wisely.
You are now living the year 1998, and no one who has been given that gift of time should ever be caught saying, “I don’t have time.”
If you’re alive, you have time. What’s more, you have a mind to make decisions about how to use that time. How to keep yourself from being “busy.” How to keep yourself from squandering the most precious gift of all.
There’s no better time than now to set goals about time. What is it that you’d like to accomplish in the next year? What would you like not to do? What committees would you like to leave? What committees would you like to join?
What would you like to be given permission to drop from your life? You are the only one who can give yourself that permission.
So think about it as you live in the present and prepare for a new century. No matter how time flies, you have “time.” Now.
And what you do with that gift can make an enormous difference in your personal life–and in the world.

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