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Use Time Wisely - Once it's Gone, it's Gone
"The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on. Not all your tears or piety will erase one whit of it." - The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam as translated by Fitzgerald.
The incomparable Erma Bombeck wrote about how our inflexibility causes us to bypass opportunities. She mused about the women on the Titanic who passed up dessert because they were cutting back. Her sister always had excuses for not going to lunch and died before they ever went. Then there are the women who won’t go out to the dinner when their husbands suggest it because they’d already thawed something. "Does the word refrigeration mean nothing to you?" Erma asks. "How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched "Jeopardy"?"
All my life, I’ve been driven by a sense of duty. Sometimes I taught when I was ill as if a day without me would have blighted my students’ minds forever. I let people talk me into doing things that I don’t really want to do. I’ve always’s done the "done" thing. Unfortunately, it’s the things that I left undone that mattered more.
"The saddest words of voice or pen--the saddest are these: "What might have been." Written in Granny’s autograph book by a spurned beau.
Sometimes my sense of duty has been misplaced as when my beloved mother was suffering her last illness. I had a job. It wasn’t even an "important" job. I should have taken a leave of absence or even quit it to be with Mother. I didn’t, and twenty years later, I haven’t recovered from this and never shall. I knew that my friend, Nancy, was unwell. She died very suddenly. I couldn’t have saved her, but I could have checked up on her, taken her food and comfort--whatever. . Two years ago, I told my sister, Christine and the last of my siblings, that I’d pick her up on Thursday for a visit. On Wednesday, I called and canceled. "We’ll do it next week." "Maybe I won’t be in the mood then," she replied. Indeed she wasn’t in the mood. She became critically ill and died that next week.
Perhaps you wonder that I would divulge this about myself. Well, I share the human condition. Such regrets as mine are common and probably universal. Ann Landers and Abigail VanBuren published many letters about the regret of people who didn’t take the time, who waited too long.
Lest you think that I’m in the depths of depression, not so. I realize that I’m just an imperfect person who did the best she could to be a good daughter, sister, and friend. Another hard lesson that I’ve learned is to forgive myself.. It’s just that I realize that the clock is ticking ever faster.
I don’t dwell on my past, but I do try to learn from it and build on it. I want to take more control of my future and make better use of my time and better choices about what I spend it on. I want to live more consciously, as Thoreau put it. That’s hard to do. It’s much easier just to sweep my failings and missed chances under my mental carpet and carry on as I’ve always done.
Brrr! On the front page of today’s Indianapolis Star is a story about a woman who was beloved by those who knew her. Some years ago, I was acquainted with her husband. She had recently told an acquaintance, "Everybody’s in such a hurry today in life these days. I’m going to slow down." She took her dog for a walk. Instead of going to the woods as usual, she decided to walk to a busy street and was struck and killed by a driver who had fallen asleep. She was 57 years old.
What shape do I want my dwindling future to take? What do I truly want? I must ask myself these questions and try to discern the true priorities of my existence before it is too late. I cannot rewrite the pages of my past, but surely I can write those of my future. Unlike animals, we humans are capable of change. It’s not too late for me to be a better wife, mother, aunt, cousin and friend.
Either Ann Landers or Abigail VanBuren was fond of saying, "Wake up and smell the coffee!" I intend to brew a fresh pot.
P.S. Today’s October sunrise is a gold and orange splendor. I must go watch it!
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