Whenever we are suddenly forced to see how fragile life really is, we come face to face with the importance of each and every day. Regardless of how much money or fame may come our way, each of us has exactly 24 hours in each day. And how many of those days we have is unknown, not available for purchase at any price.
What distinguishes our time from anyone else's time is how we spend our days and minutes. It is in the spending of our time that influences what time feels like to us.
I can remember the early days following my separation from my first husband. Despite the daily attention of dear friends and family, there were those hours in each day when I would come home to my big house and literally feel lost. Time seemed endless; I realized what the saying time stood still meant. I felt alone in a world where I could not see a future and time was just this great big void.
Then there are those days which most of us experience all the time when we feel that there is not enough time. Hours seem to fly by and I often sit at the end of the day and wonder just what I accomplished, what I spent my hours and minutes doing.
How we view our time also makes all the difference. When my sister and I travel to visit our Mum, I drive to her home in the D.C. area and together we take the long drive on the Interstate highways up the Northeast coast. That trip that some would experience as arduous is as enjoyable as the reunion at our destination. I don't think we have 5 minutes of silence as we crowd the separation of months into a 10 hour drive, protracted over 2 days of travel. We relish every minute together.
There are so many moments in my memory bank, as I am sure there are in yours, that I relive in my mind. These treasures can be taken out and savored, stretched over time, to be enjoyed again and again.
My granddaughter will never be 3 again, but she and I relive all those tea parties that we had a decade ago. The ritual was always the same; the same china cups, the same rabbit tea pot, the same elegant manners. Our memories make us smile and they grow even more dear each time we relive them.
I have another little granddaughter whom I have never seen. She is 2 now and those are 2 years she and I will never have together that no one can give back to me or to her. I could spend my time grieving for our lost opportunities together, and sometimes do, but I chose to focus on the moments I have had and do have with the granddaughter who does share my life.
We have choices about what we will do with this hour that we are living now. We have choices about which memories we will take the time to recall or to create. We have choices about whether we will dwell on what we do not have or focus on what we do have. We have choices about how, with whom, and with what attitude we will spend our time.
The only thing we do not control is how much total time we have to spend. But all the other choices we make with our time make all the difference in how we perceive the time we do have.
If you or I knew that today might be our last, how would we spend its hours? If we live each day as if it really were our last, how precious our lives will be. Let's not always wait for tomorrow. What we have is today.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 39 years.
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