Monday, August 17, 2009

Lines in time

We live each day in adrift in a sea of time. The hours, minutes and seconds pile up until they reach a full day. The days pass by to make up our work week, then our weekend and so on. Time is, by its very nature, linear. A point in time once past cannot be turned backwards or repeated. As humans, and certainly as Americans, we draw lines through time as we try to make the most of this precious commodity.

There is an entire industry devoted to "Time Management." We all have a calendar on our refrigerator or some other conspicuous place to mark down vacations, birthday parties, anniversaries, doctor's appointments and all the rest. However, calendars are for mere amateurs, to really carve up time you need a day planner or an application for your iPhone that electronically tracks every minute of your time and devotes it to some purpose.

This thing called time will run our lives if we let it. We can only try to divide it up and draw lines through it so we can know what happened, what is happening and what will be happening. Divide and conquer, so the theory goes.

No matter how full our kitchen calendar is, no matter how many important dates are written in the small squares, there are other lines in time that do not show up, but are more important to us. They are lines in time that changed everything.

While I actually do remember our wedding anniversary, and our children would never dream of letting us forget their birthdays, May 17 is not marked on my calendar, but it is a day that changed my life forever. I can divide my life at that point in time. Everything before that was before, and everything after that day was after. It was the day my father died. Along with meeting my wife and the birth of our children, I can't think of another event that fundamentally changed my world as much as that day. The hard part for me was, I never saw it coming.

Two days before my father was fine, two days later I was sitting in a car driving back home over the Yolo causeway trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do now. I had been working for my father since I was old enough to ride a horse. As I said, that day changed my life and while it was painful at the time, it made me who I am today, for better or worse.

Here is the catch; I have another unseen line in time coming, and so do you. A line in time that will again divide my life into what happened before and what happened after. A telephone call from the doctor telling me I have cancer or someone I love has some dreaded disease. A call from the CHP telling me a loved-one has been in accident, or someone calling my wife telling her I was hit by a casino bus. It could be a million things. Whatever happens, I will lean on my faith, my family and my friends. I just want to make sure I let everyone know exactly what they mean to me while I can.

I would give anything to have ten minutes with my father that week before he died. I would tell him how much I love him, and even give him a piece of my mind about some of his many faults. As much as I want to, I cannot. However, there is one thing I can do, talk to the people who are still in my life. I love my wife and my kids and I tell them that I love them all the time, but I don't recall the last time I grabbed them, held them tight, and told them how much they mean to me.

This has been a rough couple of months for some of my friends. One death, one deer versus Harley accident and a friend is fighting for his life right now with a failed heart. In a close community, we are all trying to reach out, as best we can, to make these difficult situations a little easier for our friends. We all have our busy lives and the pressures that come with it, and we can escape from these hard times into our daily routine. For those living through these challenging times, what has happened to their loved one is front and center every waking moment. All we can do is try to be there for them. I remember my tough times, and the people who reached out to me, it made a difference.

I guess my point is none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Do not let another day pass before telling those around you how much they mean to you. Call your family, if you have something to forgive or something to be forgiven of, now is the time. An old friend who was a big part of your life, call them. Go hug your kids and tell them how much you love them. Right now, not tomorrow, not this weekend, now. There is nothing more expensive than regret.

1 comment:

JazGram said...

Walt, I really enjoy your blog. Thank you for the time and thoughtfulness that you put into it.