There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
The application required the usual information that we’ve penned a thousand times. But one box asked for a detail that gave me pause.
“How long have you been in your current position?”
Time is playing with me.
Wasn’t it only a few years ago I hung up the phone and let out a squeal of excitement after accepting the job?
Wasn’t it a few months ago I brought my infant daughter to school to meet everyone?
Wasn’t it just yesterday she graduated high school?
When I was much younger, thirty years seemed an eternity. As a child, I thought a thirty year old woman was ancient. Being thirty was unimaginable. I couldn’t envision myself working full time, being a wife or even a mother. At all. Those women were so other. I was like a high school cheerleader who looked uncomprehendingly at the goths.
I laugh at that memory now and realize I’ve only pushed the same lens further away. Now I consider the stooped, white haired woman in the checkout line, who painstakingly counts the bills and coins to purchase precooked meatloaf and a bunch of bananas. She doesn’t even glance at the card swipe machine because the newfangled technology is too complicated, and I realize I can’t imagine myself at eighty. I’ve learned little.
Somehow I’m further along the road of adulthood than I’d realized, where words like “retirement”, “pension” and “down-size” have become part of my vocabulary and near future.
My daughter is getting married this year.
How did this happen?
Now I switch on the light in my office each morning and think different thoughts. It’s become less about efficiently getting through the day so I can move on to errands, car pooling, helping with homework and bedtime routines.
No. Those days are done. The point of each day has shifted.
Now each day is infused with a desire to be fully present. To take my time. I don’t know if I’ll work two more years, or ten, but either way, the days in front of me are considerably fewer than the ones behind. Perspective and nostalgia walk hand in hand.
Now each day is about remembering to notice. To notice how warm and small a five year old hand feels in mine. To notice the gleam in a preschooler’s eyes when he finally accomplishes something he struggled with for a long time.
My days are about remembering to savor. To savor the heartfelt note from a parent who is grateful her daughter can now say “Mommy” clearly. To savor the news a former student was accepted into college and know you were part of the team that made that possible. To savor the unexpected gift of a snow day when the forecast predicted rain.
My days are about remembering to appreciate. To appreciate the generosity and kindness of coworkers who collect gas cards for a colleague so she can drive back and forth to a distant hospital to visit a loved one. These same coworkers raid their children’s closet for a coat they can give a student who doesn’t have one. My colleagues inspire me everyday and I’ve learned much from them about giving from the heart.
Where are you in this journey to the next phase of life? Are you also thinking more and more about retirement from a job you’ve held or profession you’ve practiced for decades? Are you focused on the day when stressors such as meetings, report writing, overtime or travel are in your past? What else will you say goodbye to?
Or maybe you’ve focused your energy on raising your children and now they’re grown and on their own. Is there a freedom that is both scary and wonderful?
Is time playing with you too?
For thirty years I’ve enjoyed the privilege of having a meaningful job, with colleagues that became my second family. Thirty years have gone by faster than I ever imagined possible. And as the clock winds down, I’m mindful of every moment, realizing that some passed me by as I checked things off my list and pressed through to the next task that had to be accomplished.
I cannot get any of those back, but I can certainly treasure the ones I have now.
And I do. And I will.
Until I’m the white haired woman on the checkout line buying meatloaf and bananas, looking for a card reader that doesn’t exist anymore because the new technology identifies us by our fingertips or irises. And I’ll smile at the middle-aged woman behind me in line, who doesn’t yet realize how quickly thirty years goes by.
Scripture for Reflection
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.