A few weeks ago at our church we heard what I thought was a powerful sermon, given by one of the prominent lay people in our congregation, about the importance of time and spending it doing the things you love. Not wasting time away. Looking back at the end of each day and being happy with what was accomplished with your time.
She likened each day's second's - totaling 86,400 - to the amount in a bank account. An account that refreshes each day with a new 86,400 "dollars", but yet never allows you to carry over any amount of "money" from one day to the next. Each day you are only allowed just 86,400 "dollars."
How would you spend this amount, knowing that to leave any of it untouched at the end of a day is to leave it wasted behind?
Funny. I had been considering how fast time seems to be slipping away from me even before this sermon. And so our speaker's words only impressed upon me that much more how important it is to lead a meaningful life.
I read on Facebook as friend after friend greets each new Monday with an "Ugh" and a sincere wish that this may be yet another week that gets itself back to Friday as quickly as possible. Now, I like Fridays and weekends just as much as the next guy - possibly more, because I don't work outside of the home on Fridays, making my weekends longer. But still. I'm feeling more and more like our collective race to every weekend is just us racing by our lives. Weekends are only 2 days long! What about the other 5 days? Can't "we" appreciate the moments of every day we are given, and not just our Saturdays and Sundays?
In fact, for me and our small family - and I know for most families out there! - the weekends are times of getting household chores done and taking care of personal/family business that had to be set aside during the too-busy work week. Ask me on any given Monday how my weekend was and what we did and I guarantee that I most likely could not tell you off the top of my head what I or we did. I could tell you in general that it was "good" or that it was "busy" or even that we did "something." But for me to give you much more specific information than that without time to really sit back and remember - forget it. Weekends tend to be whirlwind times of grocery shopping, laundry, errands, this, that and the other thing. Hopefully some fun as well, but no promises on that one unfortunately. And they always, always go by too fast. Blink 2 blinks and there we are, already back at Monday. Yay.
You see, we think weekends are great family times, but really, they're typically just as nutty as the rest of the week. Just in a different sort of way.
As for my work week - there I sit, during the afternoon/evenings of Tues - Thurs., at one of my many jobs. This particular job is one I've come to really enjoy, actually. I am given a chance to help people manage their financial difficulties, which makes me feel really good.
And you know what else I love about it? The time just flies by!
4:00 - 8:00 p.m. Four hours. It simply whizzes by. I get to color while I'm on the phone. Or do mazes. My latest "thing" is to work on word searches during these times. I can get about 3 complicated word searches done in 3 1/2 hours (in between phone calls and a break), leaving just about 30 minutes to go - time during which I dream of being home soon with Hubby and Sweetie, able to relax with a cup of tea and maybe figure out the mystery of some "murder shows" with Hubby - before my shift for that night is over. In no time at all, it seems, I'm in my car and on my way home. That was easy!
It all sounds pretty sweet, huh? A "cooshy" job like this in a relaxed environment that passes by so quickly. Great!
But think about it, really. I love this job in part because the time flies so readily, getting me home that much more "quickly" (or so it seems) to my Hubby and Sweetie. Now, that's the time I'm really looking forward to!
Then there are the occasional surprise "vacation" days we are granted. Like our snow storm day we had on Wednesday this week. A full out blizzard in this part of the world, where hundreds of schools were closed, and both Hubby and I we told to stay safe at home instead of venturing out to our work places.
I just love family days! Especially unplanned ones where all that typical errand-running, chaotic weekendy type stuff is not part of the plan for the day. On days like these, I feel like there are an endless supply of great things we can do, but practically nothing we have to do. Love it, love it, love it!
So on snow day Wednesday - sure - I/we took care of some necessary items at first, including finishing up homework and doing the dishes after cooking lunch. But then we could do whatever! Oh, the choices!
I could: read, cross stitch, watch a movie with Sweetie and Hubby, take a nap, work with Sweetie on one of the many puzzles she got for Christmas and her birthday, write this here blog post, play a game (either with Sweetie and/or Hubby or on my own on my Ipod), etc., etc., etc.... A little for me, a little for others, a little with others. Oh, so much to choose from, such little time!
And yet, these were exactly the options I wanted to be choosing from and exactly the people I wanted to be choosing with. This, my friend, is what I wish we could do with our time every day of the year. Not just the proportionally few days we have on the calendar each year earmarked as "vacation days." Even those - like I said - tend to be over-planned and a bit too rush, rush, rush for my taste. No, it's really these gifts of surprise family days that are really my favorite and really showcase the way I'd chose to spend my time, if always given the choice and never had to worry about that pesky little thing we call "earning money."
Thankfully, with my usual mornings off from work each day, and my Fridays completely off, and Hubby's somewhat random work schedule where he may get a day off here and there within a month, we do get to have family days maybe a bit more often than others. Of course, that's assuming that the stars have aligned perfectly so that Sweetie's occasional days off from school join with Hubby and my time off. But it has been known to happen. And when it does - what a joy! This, I always think, is how we really should be living. This is what I want to be doing with my time. I'll take as many days as I can get of time spent like this with these two wonderful people.
With that, I am going to be more aware of how I can experience my personal joy as often as possible. I will do my part to make time each day to 1) do something for myself, 2) do something for others, and 3) do something with my family. I've already started on this for some things and feel well on the path towards succeeding at the others.
For me, I'm taking steps towards caring more about the person I present to the outside world. It may seem shallow and unnecessary, but for me, this means putting on a little makeup before leaving the house (something I've gotten out of the habit of doing over the last few years, save for big occasions like weddings or dinners out - maybe.) And also, well... I'm an itty bitty thing - tiny. On the verge of being, if not already, too tiny. I could stand to gain some weight is what I'm sayin'. And so I'm working on that as well. Trying to be more conscious about putting more food than I usually do into my body. That's my goal. More meat on my bones and a face made up just enough to say, "Hey, I care about the image I'm showcasing to the world. Not vain. Just considerate enough of the people I'll meet during my day to let them know I took a bit of time to look my best for myself and others."
As I said, I already feel helpful at my evening job where I help people over the phone figure out how to handle some of their financial difficulties. It seems like a simple enough job that "anybody" could do. But I beg to differ. You really have to be personable and honestly caring enough to want to see these people get through their trying situations as best they can. I especially feel satisfied when I can assist others who, perhaps, had previously thought there was no assistance to be had. I'd like to find more opportunities each and every day to do what I can to help others in need. It may be a simple act of kindness or a more grand gesture of giving. Whatever. Helping others, I've learned, is a truly wonderful feeling. Lord knows I've been helped time and again by other caring souls. And how grateful I am when helped! To be on the other end of that situation, however, can be and often is even better than receiving. Let's keep it going as best we can!
And finally, making the time to spend more time with my family. Meaning "just" Hubby and Sweetie and my extended family as well. In terms of Hubby and Sweetie, it often seems to be the case that we're all off at school or work and have, in reality, very limited "work week" time to be together, all three of us. Especially those 3 evenings a week I'm at the call center. But there's always those few minutes after I come home those nights. A few minutes left in Sweetie's day before it's her bedtime. A few minutes where we can check in with each other, find out how each of our days were, and find out what we can do to prepare for the day ahead. But, mostly, just enjoy each other's company in the "now." A little time to cuddle on the couch, read a bedtime story, or all watch together on TV a favorite family show. Nothing to worry about. Just being. Together. Now.
As the saying goes (paraphrased): No one's going to get to the end of their life and feel like they should have spent more time in the office or made more money or purchased more "things." I'm certainly not, anyway. No, I may not always use my time as wisely as I could have. I may sometimes sit and watch TV and "waste" away a good part of some days. I may wish the not-so-great parts of some days would hurry up and get over with so that I could just get back to the good part again! But in all cases, whatever is happening in my world, I am going to make an effort to appreciate each moment I'm given. To use up as many of those 86,400 seconds of each day's account doing what I can to enjoy life, help others enjoy theirs, and not wish away time to quickly get to whatever the next mile marker is on the map.
After all, each day is a gift. That's why it's called the present.
May your present be all you wish it to be and more.