It is so very easy to get caught up in getting from day to day. There are always bills to pay, mouths to feed, people who need your attention … and then there’s the silly things, the diversions that gobble up the time we call spare.
I am a dreamer. I want love and beauty and peace and happiness around me. Cocooning in books, music and film could consume all of my time, if not for the ‘have to’s,’ and the ‘should do’s.’ Eking out moments to do the ‘want to’s’ gets harder when I’m feeling guilty that I’m not living up to other people’s expectations.
But the sad truth is that life goes on, with or without my enjoyment or participation. The clock keeps ticking, and the days on the calendar keep moving forward, even If I’m not doing the things I would rather do. Some weeks it seems like I wake up on Monday, and go to sleep on Saturday, having neither seen nor felt much in between. When I flip through my appointment books for 2013, 2014 and 2015, I can see at a glance that I’ve done very little to achieve the things I had planned. Will 2016’s calendar look any different?
Where did all of that time go? It went to housework and make work, appointments and meetings, cooking and cleaning up afterwards. It went on necessary trips to the grocery, and unnecessary hours of playing computer mah-jong. What it didn’t go towards were enough hours spent communicating, by phone, in person or by computer, with those I cherish.
One of my dearest friends died from cancer, two years ago. It was a long illness, fraught with surgery and chemo, but she always believed that she could beat the disease. Still, she made sure to spend what time she had in doing what she’d put off for years; spending time with loved ones, traveling, taking courses, and enjoying live entertainment. What she stopped doing was living up to other people’s expectations.
I never had the guts to ask her if she had any regrets. I hope she didn’t have any, by the time she finally passed. But, through my own denial and in not wanting to crush her optimism, I missed a chance to ask a question she might have wanted to answer. And now I’ll never know.
One day I will not wake up. Like the sands in an hourglass, my time will have sifted away. Whatever I meant to accomplish in my trip from birth to death will be moot; only what I’ve actually done will be of consequence.
Since I can’t know what day or year that will be, I can only try to make each day count, in whatever way I choose to honour this brief life.