Reflections of a Southern Yankee: Time


And then one day you find

Ten years have got behind you

No one told you when to run

You missed the starting gun

                                Pink Floyd 

Each and every one of our lives is represented by a dash between two dates. My dash began on July 25th, 1973. I have no idea when my dash will come to an end, but I know it will end and there is nothing I can do about it. 

If life is like a race, then I say it would fit the category of a sprint. It may seem long like a marathon at times, but in reality, it’s much more like a 50-yard dash. In the blink of an eye, life passes us by.  

Another way to look at this sobering yet important subject is like a bank account. Each of us has a balance of time in our accounts. Unlike a normal bank account, none of us ever knows our balance. Every single moment that passes is another second-minute-hour-day-week-month-year withdrawn from those accounts. We have absolutely no control over when that account hits a zero balance, but it inevitably will.

As a child, I would visit my grandparents and cousins every summer in upstate New York for a month. Two of my cousins were adolescent girls who loved to watch the soap opera, “Days of our Lives.” (I was always amazed that I could go 11 months of the year without ever watching a single episode, but I could still easily catch right back up again in that one month.) The one thing I’ve always remembered about that show was the opening scene. The image of an hourglass with sand falling from the upper chamber to the lower one and the voice that stated, “Like sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives” has always stuck with me. But, it’s really only been in the last 10 years or so that I truly came to understand what that really means. My own hourglass now has more sand in the bottom chamber than the top. Again, it’s a sobering thought, but one that I am comfortable with and accept. 

So, what is the point of all of this? Well, plain and simple, time is by far the most important thing we have. Some would argue that love is more important, but I would argue that without time you cannot even have love.

In our fast-paced, hectic lives, how are you withdrawing time from your account? How are you filling in the dash? When was the last time you climbed to the top of a mountain and gazed in awe at the mosaic of colors stretched out below on a bright, crisp, early October day? Or walked barefoot along the shore as gulls cried out overhead and the warm salt water lapped at your feet? When did you last sit with friends on a rooftop bar with a waxing crescent moon overhead, laughing and enjoying each other’s company? Or gathered with loved ones in a grassy field as the bright flames of a bonfire danced and crackled before you under a starry sky? When was the last time you woke up at 4:30 a.m., made yourself a cup of coffee and just sat quietly in a comfortable chair under a blanket enjoying the tranquility of an early morning?     

I’ve been very fortunate to routinely experience all of those scenarios. I make them a priority in my life. We don’t have any control over how much time is in our accounts, but we DO have control over how we spend it. Are you spending it wisely? Or are you letting it slip away haphazardly?

As Ferris Bueller famously said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” So, again I ask, what are you doing with your dash? How are you utilizing the balance in your account? Are you just sitting idly watching the sand falling through your hourglass?

I’ll use one more movie reference. In “Shawshank Redemption,” the main character says, “Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.” Personally, I prefer livin’.


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