Time


“How you use your time determines your destiny.” –John Alston


We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are. After that we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.  We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire.

The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? Your life will always be filled with challenges.  It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life.  But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my  "life". This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.  So, treasure every moment that you  have.  Treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time...and remember that time waits for no one...

So stop waiting until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire,  until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your  car or  home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until you are off welfare, until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you've had a drink, until you've sobered up, until you die, until you are born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy...

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.


Man's Years

[Not theologically correct...but good for a laugh! ]

God created the mule, and told him, "You will be Mule, working constantly from dusk to dawn, carrying heavy loads on your back. You will eat grass and you lack intelligence. You will live for 50 years."

The mule answered: 'To live like this for 50 years is too much. Please, give me no more than 20."

And it was so.

Then God created the dog, and told him, "You will hold vigilance over the dwellings of Man, to him you will be his greatest companion. You will eat his table scraps and live for 25 years."

And the dog responded, "Lord, to live 25 years as a dog is too much. Please, no more than 10 years."

And it was so.

God then created the monkey, and told him, "You are Monkey.  You shall swing from tree to tree, acting like an idiot. You will be funny, and you shall live for 20 years."

And the monkey responded, "Lord, to live 20 years as the  clown of the world is too much. Please, Lord, give me no more than 10 years."

And it was so.

Finally, God created Man and told him, "You are Man, the only rational being that walks the earth.  You will use your intelligence to have mastery over the creatures of the world. You will dominate the earth and live for 20 years.

And the man responded, "Lord, to be Man for only 20 years is too little. Please, Lord, give me the 20 years the mule refused, the 15 years the dog refused, and the ten years the monkey rejected."

And it was so.

And so God made Man to live 20 years as a man, then marry and live 20 years like a mule working and carrying heavy loads on his back. Then, he is to have children and live 15 years as a dog, guarding his house and eating the leftovers after they empty the pantry then, in his old age, to live 10 years as a monkey, acting like a clown to amuse his grandchildren.


Window of Opportunity

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour a day to drain the fluids from his lungs.  His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.  And every afternoon when the man in the bed next to the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed would live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the outside world. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake, the man had said. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Lovers walked arm in arm amid flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man could not hear the band, he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.  Unexpectedly, an alien thought entered his head: Why should he have all the pleasure of seeing everything while I never get to see anything? It didn't seem fair.  As the thought fermented, the man felt ashamed at first.  But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour.  He began to brood and found himself unable to sleep.  He should be by that window and that thought now controlled his life.

Late one night, as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough.  He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help.  Listening from across the room, he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running.  In less than five minutes, the coughing and choking stopped, long with the sound of breathing. Now, there was only silence--deathlysilence.

The following morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendant to take it away.  As soon as it seemed appropriate, the man asked if he could be moved next to the window.  The nurse was happy to make the switch and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look.  Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself.  He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

----

Moral of the story: The pursuit of happiness is a matter of choice...it is a positive attitude we consciously choose to express. It is not a gift that gets delivered to our doorstep each morning, nor does it come through the window.  And I am certain that our circumstances are just a small part of what makes us joyful.  If we wait for them to get just right, we will never find lasting joy. The pursuit of happiness is an inward journey.  Our minds are like programs, awaiting the code that will determine behaviors, like bank vaults awaiting our deposits.  If we regularly deposit positive, encouraging, and uplifting thoughts, if we continue to bite our lips just before we begin to grumble and complain, if we shoot down that seemingly harmless negative thought as it  germinates, we will find that there is much to rejoice about. If by the mere fact, you are healthy, and can read this message; consider yourself one of the lucky ones. Smile...be positive...make others smile... and pass on your good fortune.


"Yesterday's the past and tomorrow's the future.
Today is a gift, which is why they call it the present."
-Bil Keane


Imagine there is a bank which credits your account each morning with $86,400,  carries over no balance from day to day, allows you to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day.

What would you do?

Draw out every cent, of course!

Well, everyone has such a bank.  Its name is TIME.  Every morning it credits you with 86,400 seconds.  Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose.  It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you.  Each night it burns the records of the day.  If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours.

There is no going back.  There is no drawing against the "tomorrow". You must live in the present on today's deposits.  Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success!

The clock is running.  Make the most of today...


  To realize the value of ONE YEAR
  Ask a student who has failed his exam.

  To realize the value of ONE MONTH
  Ask a mother who has given birth to a pre-mature baby.

  To realize the value of ONE WEEK
  Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper

  To realize the value of ONE DAY
  Ask a daily wage laborer who has ten kids to feed

  To realize the value of ONE HOUR
  Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet or ....

  To realize the value of ONE SECOND
  Ask a person who has survived an accident

  To realize the value of ONE MILLI-SECOND
  Ask the person who has won the silver medal in the Olympics

  Treasure every moment that you have!

  And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special...
  special enough to have your time...

  And remember time waits for no one...


A Story to Live By

Ann Wells: Los Angeles Times: 4/14/85

My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. "This," he said, "is not a slip. This is lingerie." He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip.

It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached.

"Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion."

He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me. "Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion."

I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister's family lives.

I thought about all the things that she hadn't seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special.  I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed my life. I'm reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them. I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event-such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom.  I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it.  My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends'.

"Someday" and "one of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now. I'm not sure what my sister would have done had she known that she wouldn't be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles.  I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I'm guessing-I'll never know.

It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with-someday. Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write-one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn't tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them. I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special.  Every day, every minute, every breath truly is...a gift from God.