How often do you stop to think about time?
We complain there’s not enough of it. We get bored if we have too much of it. We don’t always use it wisely. Yet we all have exactly the same amount of time in a day. Twenty-four hours. That’s 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds. That’s the same amount of time Mother Theresa had in a day to fulfill her many acts of kindness. It’s the same amount of time the President of the United States has. That your doctor has. Your mail carrier. Your car mechanic. Your neighbor who washes his car at 6 a.m. every day.
It’s what we do with that time that matters.
No, not all of us are going to spend our days working for world peace or operating on people, or even working from sunup to sundown. But there is a lot we can do with the time we have. Recently, my friend’s 9-year-old daughter, Maddie, had her 10th surgery in five years. Maddie has ependymoma, a type of brain cancer. After being first diagnosed at age 5 and having her first surgery, Maddie was cancer-free for two years. Then the tumors came back. And kept coming. Her recent surgery went after three of the five she had in her brain.
Maddie’s parents think about time a lot. Like how much they have left with their daughter, who is one of the kindest, sweetest, bravest girls you’d ever meet. Before the recent surgery, mom Melanie noted that they’d been watching these tumors for 15 months — “if we can get 15 more by taking them out,” she said, “it’s a win.” Maddie herself said she could handle some really tough days if it meant having more of the wonderful ones. Think about that for a moment.
It’s fitting to think about time at the holidays, when we find ourselves caught in the rush of it all. It seems like there’s never enough time to do all the shopping, the entertaining, the cooking, the cleaning. Our weekends are full of family activities; weekdays are full of squeezing in a little more work for the chance to have a little time off during the holidays.
How about this holiday season, we all try to slow down and just enjoy the time we have? Sit through the 8th year of watching your ballerina perform in the Nutcracker without complaining and marvel at how skilled she’s become. Drive through that holiday lights display again and focus on the delight on your children’s faces (and yes, let them poke their heads through the sunroof). Wake up early Christmas morning with a smile, realizing it may be the last year your son believes in Santa Claus. Bundle up and go sledding even if it’s cold. Sit through that visit with your family and just spend time enjoying their company.
Time is the most precious gift of all, and you can’t get it back once it’s gone. Don’t waste even one second.