The Illusion of Time

We lost an hour recently due to daylight saving time.

(Unless you live in Arizona or Hawaii!)

This time adjustment was first implemented during war times to conserve fuel and signed into common practice under the 1966 Uniform Time Act.  As with anything else the benefits are debatable.  Some studies suggest that people have more headaches, heart attacks and even more accidents in the week after we “spring forward” in March.

To be sure, losing an hour leaves me feeling a bit groggy but I think of how regularly I can lose time by simply not being wholly present in TODAY.

When I am tempted to wish time away – to long for a day or a season of life to end –  I am reminded of a poem in Linda Dillow’s book, Calm My Anxious Heart.  This powerful poem was written by a 14-year-old boy:

It was spring but it was summer I wanted; the warm days and the great outdoors.

It was summer but it was fall I wanted; the colorful leaves and the cool dry air.

It was fall but it was winter I wanted; the beautiful snow and the joy of the holiday season.

It was now winter but it was spring I wanted; the warmth and the blossoming of nature.

I was a child but it was adulthood I wanted; the freedom and the respect.

I was twenty but it was thirty I wanted; to be mature and sophisticated.

I was middle-aged but it was twenty I wanted; the youth and the free spirit.

I was retired but it was middle age that I wanted; the presence of mind without limitations.

My life was over but I never got what I wanted.

Currently my life revolves around living with and caring for my mom who is in late stage Alzheimer’s. 

Some days feel very tedious and long – and my mind turns to thoughts of when I can once again choose for myself how time is spent. Yet the past ten months with my mom have flown by.  This season of life could end any day, but I still have time to experience sweet moments with her:

  • how she cups my face in her hands and kisses my cheek when she learns, each day, that I am her daughter
  • how she dances with the grandkids reminding them of the first-place dance trophy she once won
  • how she still tries to connect with me through conversation (although what she says makes little sense)
  • How she still wants to look pretty!

Today she is still here.  But today will be gone – tomorrow.

Time really is an illusion.  I can learn from experience but I can never relive days gone by. I can hope for the future but I have no assurance that tomorrow will be a reality for me. Or for my mom.

Recently Jef Fowler, our head of school and my friend, sent me an insightful email.  HIs words invoke both relief and a determination to be wholly present in this unique time God has granted me.  Here’s part of what Jef wrote:

“I hope you can separate yourself from others, lay down most of your obligations, and just live in the moment that God gives you with whoever and whatever He gives you.  Just listen, appreciate, and enjoy.  The joy of the Lord will return to your soul as you still yourself and start seeing and hearing Him in every big and little thing that surrounds you.  Give yourself permission to sit in silence in this season… and just take it all in.”

When I stop and “take it all in” – when I choose to be wholly PRESENT and content in this season with my mom – when I quit trying to return to life as I once knew, or life as I envision in the future, I find joy in TODAY.

How about you? Do you find yourself wishing for tomorrow: 

  • for a different job, a different location, a different home?
  • for a school day – or year – to end?
  • for a child to mature and grow up?

I remember back to when my own kids were young, and how some days felt very very long.  Yet in hindsight, the season of parenting was very short. It’s not the tough days that stand out in my memories – I remember the sweet times! Now that my kids are parents themselves, I remind them to not get so busy with life that they miss experiencing the sweetness of this season – while they still can!

Time is a gift from God. 

How you and I use it and what we do with it is up to us.

3 Comments

  1. Love, love, love this Ellen! Such a wise and much needed reminder for me personally. Always in my prayers, Cheryl

    Reply
  2. This was so well stated. We seem to always want to move forward and don’t embrace what God had for us today. Thanks for the reminder.

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  3. I love your emphasis on living TODAY. I recently read a short book by Joyce Meyers called Worry-Free Living. As a lifelong worrier, I confess that this little book has had a powerful effect in helping me to truly combat worrying. The greatest “weapon” against worry for me has been to focus on living in the present. Your post confirms the importance of this and I’m thankful to say that these days I am worrying much less and enjoying each day. Like you, I’m cherishing the days with my mom as she’s continually changing but I’m also relishing moments with my grandson knowing that his youth will fly quickly by. Thank you for your encouraging words. You always speak to my heart! <3

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