Where does the time go

Published 7:20 pm Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Before I get into the meat of my column today, I must thank Mrs. Christine Murray for her helpfulness as it pertains to last week’s column about gnats. Christine is a precious friend of Donna Sue’s and mine and she remembered Donna Sue’s birthday last week with a nice card.

She also took the time to give me some good advice regarding the gnats. She said that I should poke a little cotton in my ears to keep the pests from burrowing and buzzing in my ears. Thanks, Christine. I’m not sure I should have mentioned it to the church, though. Everyone showed up Sunday morning with cotton in their ears!

Most all of us have asked the question, “Where does the time go?” One of my favorite songs from the old era of country music, when there was an actual difference between country and pop, was the Willie Nelson song, “Ain’t It Funny How Time Slips Away.” It’s about an old love affair, but the question of time slipping away is a poignant one.

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This past week I was involved in a funeral for a man who would have been 90 years old, had he lived until his December birthday. As I was traveling to Camilla to be with the family, a sobering thought came my way. I realized that I am closer to this man’s age of 90 than I am to my daughter’s age of 28.

Willie Nelson’s song may ask the question, “Ain’t it funny,” but I have to admit, the thought of me being closer to becoming a nonagenarian (age 90) than when I was a tricenarian (age 30) wasn’t the kind of thought that had me shouting, ‘Woohoo!’

At the same time, it really doesn’t depress me all that much. I’m glad to be heading on down the aging trail rather than being stopped in my tracks, if you know what I mean.

Where has the time gone, though? It’s like this year. Didn’t we just have New Year’s Day and cold weather? How can it be August already and a new school year starting? Why, before we can say Merry Christmas, it will be here and gone.

I can remember when the year revolved around that special day of the year called Christmas. It seemed to take forever for it to get here. I guess it was all the excitement of what we were going to get from Santa Claus or, with me, it was the fun I was going to have when my cousins came to visit. It seemed the more I anticipated the joy of Christmas, the longer it took to get here.

Along those lines, I read a little saying from what is known as Zall’s Second Law. I don’t know who Mr. Zall is, but he must be kin to Mr. Murphy who has all sorts of laws. Zall’s second law concerns time and goes like this: “How long a minute is depends on which side of the bathroom door you’re on.”

I don’t know at what age time really begins to fly by, but I have gotten there. Some people think it is around the age of 50, but I think it was before that.

If you are fortunate to have children of your own or even around other people’s children, then time flies. We just celebrated my grandson’s fourth birthday and it seems like only yesterday that Donna Sue and I were on our way to Pensacola for the birth of Cameron.

For what it’s worth, it doesn’t seem all that long ago that Cameron’s mother—my daughter—was born. How can this little girl whose diapers I changed, who couldn’t get enough of chasing me around the house, and who I helped learn to ride a bicycle be almost 30 years old herself?

I wonder if my father and mother wonder the same about me? How can our son be closer to 90 years old than he is 30? Where did the time go?

As I ponder this thing called time, I realize there are three aspects of time. One of them is the past and I can’t do anything about that, except to acknowledge that I wasted a lot of it and hope that I made the most of some of it.

Another part of time is the future. We may think we have some control of that part of time and we might. But I would suspect that our control over the future is less than we think or like. The Bible warns about too much planning for the future.

Just this past Sunday, our scripture lesson was about a man who made a bumper crop and decided to build bigger barns to store his goods so that he could take it easy. He planned to eat, drink, and be merry, but the Lord called him foolish for such presuming. His life ended much sooner than he expected and he left all behind.

That’s two out of the three aspects of time: past and future. There’s no change in the former and uncertainty in the latter. That leaves only one more consideration, the present.

As I drove down the road, heading toward the task of helping a family weather a storm of loss, I was living in the present. Today as I type these words I live in the present. A good question to ask is whether I am spending this moment in a way that will make me happy and life for others better.

Carl Sandburg, the great American poet once wrote: “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.”

Where does the time go? I don’t know. I know that it goes too quickly, but I also know that I’m glad I have it. And I want to spend every bit of it!