The big challenge for me as the weeks of sheltering in place pile up, is to see the idle time as an opportunity to try new things, to stay busy and engaged rather than submit to the lure of the couch and skipped shower and growing a mustache as my ‘big project’ for the shut-in.
I have the propensity to picture time as an hourglass in the hands of the Grim Reaper. It is a frightening image; my life slowly siphoned dry, only so many years, months and hours remaining before I die. Conversely, when I work through the negativity and accept time as inescapable – and life as finite - the amount of sand that flows top to bottom does not change, but I’m exhorted not to waste it. I regard the hours remaining as time left to live.
That is the theme, even as I whistle in the dark to keep up my courage: I am helpless to stop time; all I can do is make the most of it.
Be assured, holier than thou is not the theme of the tale. We make our own choices about how to face the future. But for me it’s clear, how we look at time makes an enormous difference in how we age.
I may have written a version of these bromides in previous posts, but I think they are worth repeating.
The single most important lesson I have learned in the course of my journey is that the past is conclusive, and the future is conjecture. Only the present is ours to create, and the moment is fleeting. It behooves us to take advantage of each moment.
When I have difficulty answering the existential question, “Why am I here?” it’s because I’m not. I am stuck in the past or imagining the future.
Feeling young at heart is a state of mind, regardless of the stent. I still have ambition; I still have desire; I still have dreams. The knack is to be in rhythm with our age, recognizing and accepting the tempo appropriate to the stage of our life.
I have closed the “What if…” file. I am content with the “This is it" file. The focus is not on the man I used to be, but the man I am. The failures of the past are transformed into a reservoir of invaluable experience. I forgive myself for the blunders of the past that hurt others, and myself. For the remaining impasses that cannot be resolved I turn to the Reinhold Niebuhr serenity prayer.
I am a better listener. At the same time, I am better at trusting my own opinions and instincts.
I have come to the conclusion, even when the wound is deep, too long as a spectator watching the world go by is missing the fun. Even grief has a time frame.
Closing words about time. Perhaps sheltering in place is a gift. Let us make the most of the time.
Time flies like an arrow.
Fruit flies like a banana.
Each morning we are born again.
What we do today is what matters most.