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Just dropping by: It’s never too late to conquer the time thief

Yevet Tenney Published on 24 December 2010

Happy New Year! Throw the confetti. Blow the whistles. Kiss your sweetheart. January 2011 is born.

Who changed the calendar? Who turned the clock ahead while I was sleeping? What happened to 2010? I thought the Grinch had a change of heart. I want to know who the thief is that keeps stealing dates off my calendar.

I have my planner book. I faithfully write down important events and schedule my life to save time. I put the time aside to save for a rainy day. But when I open the calendar, I find another year gone by, with no time to spare for the things I want to do. The novel I promised to write is still swimming in my head. The life-history books I planned to put together are still in fragments on diskettes and cassette tapes in a file under “I’ll get that done” stuff. The journal I promised to write every day in 2010 is covered with dust sitting on my shelf. The pages look like winter’s first snow. I can’t even find the exercise plan I diligently wrote New Year’s Eve. But I did find the few extra pounds that somebody left on my waistline, and the few gray hairs that my beautician left for a joke. I don’t think it’s funny! I want to know who is tampering with the clock!

0111pc_tenney_1When I was a child, I waited forever to go to school. Christmas was eons away from the first day of school, and the Fourth of July was 10 years away from Christmas. I used to say, “I’ll be so glad when...” It didn’t matter what event was going to take place. I wished time would pass so I could be there: church meetings, school parties, graduations, holidays, family reunions, first dates, marriage ... time crawled at a snail’s pace, and the calendar seemed to be 365 pages long.

Now the sun crosses the sky with such fury, I think the sun is rising when it is setting. Christmas happens two days after the Fourth of July and the first day of school happens a week after Easter and New Year’s ... I don’t even want to talk about it. Somebody is playing with the clock, and I wish I could find the culprit. I’d give his calendar a squeeze. Maybe he’d give me my time back.

If he just gave me back the time I saved for a rainy day, I’d be happy. I’d learn to play the violin. The notes would rise with melodic perfection to touch the listeners with beauty and love. I was going to do that someday when I had more time. I would lay out a picture-perfect Betty Crocker meal every day for my family. I’d be an artist, not just a “wanna-be.” I’d paint pictures of glorious landscapes and seascapes. I’d get good enough to paint a picture of each one of my children and grandchildren. Each painting would reflect the sweetness and beauty I see in them, but seldom tell them about. I often think about those lost opportunities when words were saved for a more appropriate time. If I had my rainy day time back, I would never let one second go unused.

I wish the time thief would give me back the time I spent on all the arguments I felt I had to win. Oh, they seemed important at the time. I had my reasons. My logic was impeccable. My pride was at stake. I stood at the top of the argument mountain, victorious with my foot on my opponent. The winner! Looking back, I can’t even remember what the arguments were about. In the race of time, I turned out to be the loser. The time thief must have laughed at my naivete. He stole the time I could have used to make a memory worth having. He stole the smiles of my loved ones, and the kind loving words I should have said.

I wish I could get back the time I spent whining about things I didn’t have. I wasn’t as beautiful as my sister. My hair was thin mousy brown, not thick, golden tresses of light meant for the fairy queen in my imagination. I was 10 pounds uglier than my best friend and I could never quite fit into my skinny wardrobe. Many tears and hours were spent on fruitless woeful whining. The hours could have been used shaping a brain to encompass the marvels of the universe. I could have read a thousand books or written a hundred novels. But it is gone.

I wish I could get back my worry time. Worry is unproductive wasted time. I learned that after I spent years imagining all the negative variations of what possibly could have made my husband late. If my husband was a few minutes late, I would immediately start to imagine the terrible crash, followed by the drive-by gang shooting, the trip in a helicopter that crashes into the burning hospital and the incompetent doctor who rescues him on the scene. By the time my husband arrived home, I was ready to phone the mortuary to find out when I needed to come and identify the body. After many years of this daily worry ritual, I finally took control and started trusting to statistics. How many times had he had an accident? How many times had my neighbors had accidents? How many times was he likely to get into an accident five miles from home on a country road? If he did get in an accident, it would be a growing experience and I would live through it. Shakespeare’s words made perfect sense: “A coward dies many deaths, a brave man but once.” I came to the realization that the time thief was stealing moments of peace and opportunities for me to build faith in the Lord. I gave up worrying, but I wish I could get those wasted hours back again.

If the time thief were generous, he would give me back the time I lost watching second-rate television and movies. Oh, I don’t regret the movies that edified my soul and made me better. You know the ones: “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Follow Me Boys,” “Little Women,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” “Ben Hur” ... but the other movies that take your mind where you never paid a ticket to go. You know, the kind that make you feel dirty inside and out. You leave the theater feeling that humanity is sick and depraved, without a breath of human kindness. Those I wish I could erase and buy back the time. The thief took more than my time in those movies. I learned to get up and walk out of those movies, but I wish I had learned to walk away before so much of my precious time was irretrievable.

A new year is here. This one will go more swiftly than the last, and another will take its place. The time thief is rampant. He has clever ways to steal minutes, hours, days, months and years from our lives. One day our hair is golden, and life is filled with anticipation and dreams of the future. Then we wake up and our hair is gray and our dreams are secured or vanished. We look back on our life and ponder the price we paid with our allotment of time. Each golden second that ticks away will belong to the thief of time or it will be etched as a silver memory on the timeless pages of our minds. This year I pray I will place my foot on the thief of time and stand victorious in making life a mountain of glorious memories instead of a pit of seething regret. Happy New Year!  end_mark