|Take time to Smell the Roses|
How often do you get to the end of the week and wonder where the week went or how it could have passed so quickly? How often do you remark about how swiftly we have arrived at June and another school year is ending? I told my granddaughter she isn't allowed to be a seventh grader already. As if I have anything to say about the subject. When you or a loved one celebrate another birthday, do you wonder how it is possible to have arrived at this age? I am 67 and can't believe I have amassed that many years nor that Bruce and I have been married 44 years this coming August.
I know where that time has gone. I see it in our children and grandchildren, for example. All I have to do is think about the number of places we have lived, the jobs we have had, places we have visited, and the friends we have been blessed to know along the way to realize lots of years were needed for that kind of living. When you add in the losses --friends and family who have died, one's own health issues, unrealized or changed dreams, and adjusted views of who we think we are and the life we thought we would have--I know I am no longer at the beginning of my days.
I don't think I am at the end of my days yet either, but I am also aware that major life changes do not belong to everyone else. Kathleen Dowling Singh in her truly excellent book, The Grace in Aging, Awaken as Your Grow Older, reminds me that "many people in the 'sick' group were in the 'healthy' group yesterday." Life changes on a dime.
The reality is time passes at the same rate it always has,, but as we age and there are fewer years ahead of than behind us, the grains of sand seem to flow into the bottom of the hour glass much faster. So what does this mean for how we are to live these days that melt like ice cream on a summer's day?
Singh says it is silly to pretend we are not aging. "Perhaps there's a bit of denial, perhaps a sense of the specialness of 'me' that allows me alone exclusion from the river of time." p. 10. She tells it like it is from the first paragraph in chapter one. The time for denial has worn out it's welcome, as if it was ever a guest worth serving and sheltering in the first place.
More words from Singh:
We are face to face with our last chance to experience
our lives more fully and more freely, to experience it
so much more able to love and give and forgive. Many
of us have lived much of our lives as dress rehearsal,
without the sharp mindfulness of opening night. p. 13
One of the the things I have always told myself I wanted to do was write, and I have done some writing--a few articles here and there, this blog, tons of letters and journals, essays for a book now set aside, but now is the time. I spend much of my days now writing, taking an intensive online class to support my book project and actually writing page after page for this book. It is time to stop being in denial that there will always be time to do what I say I want to do, but at the same time I don't want to miss the rest of my life. My friends and family and spiritual direction clients and new and exciting church activities. I don't want to miss today, June 9, 2015, or tomorrow or any day I am privileged to have after that.
I am not advocating being more busy or doing more or doing less, whatever fits for you. What this time of our lives, really any time of our lives, for you don't have to be old to learn this, calls forth is our own awakening. "This is mindfulness--intended, open, non interfering attention placed on each moment's arising." p. 41.
Each moment's arising.
And so I try to ask myself is this a moment for writing and if so how can I be most present to it? Is this a moment to leave my garret and go for a walk by myself or with my love? Is this a moment to respond to an invitation to go play somewhere? Is this a moment to initiate play? Is this a moment to set aside my agenda for the day and notice an unexpected gift? Is this a moment to listen to the subtle call of my inner voice or the whisper of another's call to me?
Each moment's arising.
And so the moments, the days, the weeks, the months and the years continue to flow quickly no matter what we do. My job is to bless that flow and to live in it wholly.
In what ways have you been denying the passing of time and what exactly are you going to do about it? Now. I would love to know.
The Grace in Aging by Kathleen Dowling Singh