I remember occasions in life when time seemed to move very slowly. The days before Christmas as a child. Pregnancy. Labor. Waiting for water to boil. Sitting in committee meetings. The abdominal part of fitness classes.
Those were exceptions.
The year I was 14, I had a swimming coach who shouted out the time on his stop watch as he paced on the pool deck during practice. He ticked off the passing seconds as swimmers came toward the finish. If he thought you were slacking, he picked up a deck chair and threw it at you in the water. It was a form of negative motivation. It pushed you to try harder to beat the clock.
Back then, people who were the age that I am now were old. They were on the down slope of life while I, at 14, was on the uphill climb. I thought I was living the best years of my life. I believed that those were the years I would remember.
Funny, I don’t remember a lot. Years have fast-forwarded. Children have grown. People have passed through my life. Places are now vague memories. Wrinkles have formed. And another year has gone by.
And another new year is here.
A friend and I were talking about what it might have been like if we’d had the wisdom we’ve gained in our lifetimes when we still had the bodies we had at 20. There is some universal reason that does not happen. Likely, it would be dangerous.
Of the two, I’d take wisdom. It has been far more faithful. Earned wisdom tells me to lovingly grip what remains. It reminds me that time spills away, like milk, with or without help. It warns me to stay calm about the passage of time. It suggests I not fritter it away. It nudges me to spend time with awareness and to appreciate time for the gift it is.
The shift from one year into the next is more than a reason for celebration. It is a prompt, just like that shout coming from the coach at the side of the pool, that the clock is ticking. It is motivation. It is an abrupt knock upside-the-head to bear in mind that opportunity still remains before the finish line.
Opportunity to love, to appreciate, to play, to create, to trust, to thank, to discover, to learn, to dream, to grow, to remember, to cherish, to hope, to experience joy. To make these the best years in memory. To keep trekking the uphill climb.
There is no one standing on the edge counting off the seconds anymore.
There’s just the tick tock of the new year.
May your time in this next trip around the sun be well-spent.
Happy New Year.