You all assume next year.
The speaker? My mother, who no longer bought green bananas.
The targets? Eight junior seniors, who were casually talking about plans for next year’s season in the (Arizona) sun, without so much as a bow to that old adversary in the corner: Not the American Navy in our case, but Time.
That was seven years ago and my mother has since died, at the age of 95: I was sad but not surprised. One of the women confidently making next-year plans has also died, in her early sixties: I was sad but also aghast. And scared.
Theoretically, I know that I can’t assume even the next breath; practically, I carry on as if I’ll live forever. As if I have all the time in the world. Endless time to start new hobbies, fulfill old dreams, finish existing projects, meet ongoing exercise and other personal objectives, and sustain precious relationships.
It ain’t so.
Just as a milestone birthday can bring me up short, suddenly feeling the uncertainty about what time is left, so a milestone year can do the same. For me, 2020 is such a year: A decade marker, it invites me to consider where I’ll be in 2030. Whether I’ll be.
And it invites me to consider what to do with my time, however much more of it there is. And not just what to do, but how. Shall I use my time intentionally? Carefully? Jealously, even? Or shall I use it freely? Fearlessly? Audaciously?
Maybe how-ever else, I should use my time gratefully rather than thoughtlessly. To paraphrase that goofy mixed-message interstate billboard:
Because time’s a gift,
not a given.