What do you mean by “I don’t have time?”

Last Saturday morning, I was sitting at my computer getting ready to write a column when my four-legged friend came up and gently pawed at my leg.
I knew what she wanted. Phoebe wanted me to go in the living room with her and sit in my easy chair. After I would be comfortably seated, she would crawl under the coffee table and look up at me with her innocent, adoring eyes.
Just the two of us would sit there together in the living room and she would be satisfied.
But this time, I didn’t want to be bothered. In a harsh voice, I said, “I don’t have time, Phoebe.”
Phoebe understood and lay down behind my chair, bored and waiting for some attention.
What does that statement mean to a dog, or to a person for that matter? “I don’t have time.”
I don’t have time to cook healthy . . . to play . . . to exercise . . . to sit on the porch swing. I don’t have time to volunteer . . . to read . . . to visit friends in the hospital. . . .
I don’t have time to repaint the garage . . . to have a ladies’ coffee . . . to write my autobiography . . . to just sit and think. . . .
It makes me think of a Garfield poster. With his desk piled high with papers, his phone in one hand and a cup of coffee spilling on the floor, the precocious cat said, “I don’t have time to be this busy.”
There’s an old Irish saying, “When God made time, he made plenty of it.”
Think about it. Everyone has the same 24 hours each day, 168 hours each week, and 8,736 hours a year. What you do with those hours is up to you.
If you feel too busy, look at your life patterns. Do you waste time on junk mail? The average person spends eight months of his/her life opening junk mail.
Do you insist on having a perfectly clean house? Do you have difficulty saying no? Do you have too much stuff to sort and take care of?
Have you spent time identifying your true goals and do you live according to those priorities? Or do you try to do everything—hoping that someday you’ll finally get a handle on life and be able to enjoy yourself.
“The illusion that there will be some time in the future when all things will come together for us interferes with our living fully today,” says John Gile in his book, “Keeping First Things First.”
Unless you live fully now, you never will. Says Gile, “The only time we ever have is the present.”
Gile said one day he went to the office with unpolished shoes. As he bent down to shine his shoes that morning, his little son began crying. Gile comforted the little boy and then had to rush off without polishing his shoes.
But Gile wasn’t embarrassed, because “Some day my shoes will be in a scrap heap and no one will care whether they were ever shined. But the love I gave my son this morning will live on in him and those he passes it on to.”
Remember this story and think carefully the next time you are tempted to tell a loved one “I don’t have time.”
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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