This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)
As I enter the last 6(ish) weeks before my launch, time is a matter much on my mind. On the one hand, I want to be 100% productive – to get the boat fitted, the book written, the website updated – but on the other hand, I want to have some special memories of dry land, good friends and good food to look back on as I cross the Pacific. Only a relaxed attitude to time allows those occasions to ripen into something memorable.
Today I came across two contrasting views of “time” in the 21st century…
Here is the first – from the New York Times (the irony of “Times” not being lost on me)…
And here is the second, sent to me by e-mail…
“Living the Dash (as in, the dash between life and death: 1967 – ?)
Too many people put off the things that bring them joy just because they haven’t thought about it, don’t have it on their schedule, didn’t know it was coming, or are too rigid to depart from their routine.
I got to thinking one day about all those people on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I’ve tried to be a little more flexible.
How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn’t suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word “refrigeration” mean nothing to you?
How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched ‘Law and Order’ on television?
I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, “How about going to lunch in a half hour?” She would stammer, “I can’t. I have clothes in the washer. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late breakfast,” And my personal favorite: “It’s Monday.” She died a few years
ago. We never did have lunch together.
Because Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches.. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect!
We’ll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Steve toilet-trained.
We’ll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet. We’ll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college.
Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of “I’m going to,” “I plan on,” and “Someday, when things are settled down a bit.”
When anyone calls my ‘seize the moment’ friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for five minutes, and you’re ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of Rollerblades and skip an elevator for
a bungee cord.
My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It’s just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process. The other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-decker. If my car had hit an ice-berg on the way home, I would have died happy.
Now…go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to…not something on your SHOULD DO list. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?
Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or listened to the rain lapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night? Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask “How are you?” Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head? Ever told your child, “We’ll do it tomorrow.” And in your haste, not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just call to say “Hi”?
When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift….Thrown away…. Life is not a race. Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over.”
It’s clearly a matter of balance – being purposeful, without being so driven that there is no room for serendipity and spontaneity. But balance is a tricky thing to find. I constantly struggle to tiptoe along that tightrope, weighing a sensible attitude towards the future on one side, against a child-like immediacy on the other. If you ever find the answer, let me know….