Does time really fly?

September 21, 2011

I celebrated a birthday this week.

We’ll not talk about when, because that’s irrelevant, or which one, because it is becoming nauseating; let’s just acknowledge the fact that I had a birthday this week.

I mean, my daughters are 23 and 25. I’m no longer a spring chicken, I know, but gee, whiz—I still feel like it was yesterday that I was turning 30, when my sister thought it would be cute to send me black carnations, and the next day I went to a church committee meeting wearing jeans and everyone else was in suits, and when I got home and told my wife about it, she said, “You’re 30 years old. You don’t need to be wearing blue jeans anymore!”

(For the record, I still wear jeans.)

But time really does fly; It feels like yesterday that it was January. And here it is past the middle of September, and I just read an email about scheduling Christmas Eve services. Before you know it, it’ll be June, and I’ll be packing for the Ecuador trip.

This all said, the question hanging there seems to be, “So what?”

Which drives me to recall a question I have asked people through the years, not everyone, but selected people, and have always been answered with some really good advice.

When Anne, our oldest daughter was just a couple of months old, Lib and I had my boss over for dinner, as his family was all out of town. After dinner, we were sitting around talking, and we asked Dan the question: “Forgetting all other advice, what one piece of advice would you give us at this stage of our life?”

Dan thought for a moment and said, “Carpe Diem.” Seize the day.

Not bad advice.

I’ll confess that I have not always followed it, that there have been times I was too busy, in too much of a hurry, when I was wishing things were different, better, farther along. Most every time that has been the case, I have been disappointed.

But when I have slowed down long enough to remember that the world does NOT revolve around me, and I have chosen to live in the moment, I have always been amazed. When I do that, time slows down.

Like the other day, when I slipped out onto the deck, and watched my 2 dogs nose around in the back yard for a few moments before they caught my scent and came running to me.

Or the evening, years ago, when Lib and I sat and watched as the sun sank into the waters of Lake Martin.

Or last Sunday, when I watched the choir put their music away, and they just SANG.

Or a couple of years ago when I was in the Holy Land, and I took the time to just sit in ancient places, and recall ancient-yet-still-alive words. Lib and I, along with another colleague, are leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in a few weeks. Meeting this past Sunday with the folks who are going with us, I pointed out the difference between a tour and a pilgrimage. Tours run from site to site. On a pilgrimage, you can take the time to soak the spot up, and listen to God.

Maybe with age comes the release of narcissism, and the ability to recognize grace when it is around us. (Interesting that I was chewed out today by younger colleagues for not posting my birthday on Facebook. “I don’t trumpet myself,” I said.)

So what?

Slow down, reader. Pitch your to-do list, and enjoy life.

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It has been two weeks since my crash, when I hit the deck on Tuxedo Road at about 20 mph, and skidded along the pavement. For the most part I have healed up, and I’m doing OK, I think. I mean, the day after the crash I was on my old bike on a trainer, and the next day I rode 40 miles on the Silver Comet to make sure all the “pieces parts” worked.
One day last week I rolled out, and about a half mile from the house realized that I was not wearing a bike helmet (a new one, to replace the broken one), so I turned around and went back home. It was spitting rain, so I bagged it for the day. I rode again two other days last week, one another trip on the Silver Comet with friends for another 40 miles.
Oh, and then I went backpacking over the weekend with a bunch of guys from the church. I’ll admit that my ribs still hurt on occasion, and after backpacking, my hip was pretty gimpy, but now, for the great part, I’m doing just fine. Most of the road rash is gone, only one small spot still there as a reminder.
(I will admit that when I came into the office on Monday and listened to a voice mail from my Doctor’s office calling to check on me, I wondered if they knew something I did not know, and worried a wee bit.)
So today for the first time in two weeks, I rolled out, in the dark, and headed out for one of my normal routes. As I turned onto Tuxedo to head downhill, I found myself turning my light from flashing mode to the on mode, and rolling slowly. I sensed muscles tightening up, and was aware that my mind was close to panic.
But nothing happened, no crash, no harm, no foul. The rest of my ride was uneventful. OK, there was one small hole in the road that I did not see, and hit, and when it jarred me, I felt my entire system flinch as if the crash were happeneing all over again. I got home, racked the bike, and read the paper.
Funny how the first time you return to a spot where something really, really, significant happened, your entire neuro-muscular system can go into overdrive. The summer before my Senior year in college I rolled a dump truck, leaving it upside down in a ditch (a blog for another day). I took the next day off from the Highway Department, then the next day back, I was riding in a truck that someone else was driving. As we drew near the spot where I’d wrecked, I all but freaked out, telling my friend to slow down, yelling at him to be careful, fearful that we were going to wreck. We did not, no more than I did again today.
So when something happens to you, and you get that wonky feeling that it is going to happen again, just get on that old horse that threw you, and ride it to prove to yourself–and others–and maybe the horse–that you’re in charge, not your fear.