Sunday, February 21, 2010

Time Is Relative

We have all heard the phrase “time is relative”. What does that really mean? To what is time relative? Time is fixed. It is quantifiable. It is what it is. A second is a second. Sixty of them make a minute. Sixty minutes make an hour. Twenty-four hours make a day. Nothing is going to change that. No matter how hard I wish that some days had thirty hours, and then there are those that after ten hours feel like they have gone on way too long, the truth of the matter is that every day is going to last twenty-four hours and no one can change that fact. Again I ask, to what is time relative?

Time is in direct relationship with time itself and our direct need or desire for it. On those days that we seriously need it or desire it, there never seems to be enough. Take time spent sleeping, for example. I treasure that time. It seems that whether I sleep for three hours (I have had my share of those 180 minute nights in the last couple years) or whether I sleep eight hours (there have been a couple of those nights too), it is never enough. I say that, but I really don’t know what enough is. Or for that matter, what too little is. I don’t notice a whole lot of difference during the day one way or the other. Maybe I just don’t appreciate the complex relationship of time spent asleep verses time spent awake.

Maybe that’s it. Time is relative to how much we appreciate how we spend it. I have spent almost twenty-one years raising children. Offspring No. 2 is leaving in the fall for college. A lot has happened during those 21 years. It many ways the birth of both girls seems like forever ago. Fortunately those days of every meal I ate for nine months making a second appearance are now only a blurred memory. At other times, the days of teaching them colors and numbers and how to bite a Dorito and create a trapezoid seem like yesterday. I have enjoyed nearly every minute of every day with the girls and I don’t regret how I have spent any of the past twenty-one years. That is a great feeling!

When I look back, time has passed quickly. As I am fast approaching fifty, I want it to slow down. I don’t want the next 21 years to go by so fast. Maybe these feelings come from the fact that I am starting all over in life. In a few short months I will no longer be a 24/7 parent and I will be a newlywed. The last time those two things aligned I was twenty one and had a lifetime ahead of me. It seemed then like I had all the time in the world to go to graduate school, establish myself in the work force, have and raise children, buy a house, save for retirement, travel, and the list goes on. My perspective is a little different now. How much longer do I have to work to pay all the girls’ tuition, have enough for retirement, and still have enough time to enjoy retirement? Suddenly I feel like I am working against time – or is it that time is working against me?

I can’t change time. I can only change how I look at it. And here is my perspective. In the twenty-four hours that make up every day, I can choose to look with joy and gratitude at all that those hours bring, or I can spend them wallowing in dissatisfaction and worry. For me, there is no decision to be made here. If time is relative to how much we appreciate it, it may pass quickly for me, but I would rather come to that end smiling at where I have been and at what I have done than crying because I have staggered so long in misery and grief.

Approaching each day this way gives me confidence to believe that the best is yet to come.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

In years past I have taken the opportunity to write some fairly sarcastic posts on Valentine's Day. It doesn't take a PhD in psychology to know that such musings are a way to avoid facing the fact that I really didn't have any reason to get excited about Valentine's Day. I am happy to say that things have changed and that there will be no sarcasm in today's post. After today, however, anything goes.

After many years in denial, I have confronted my true self. I am admitting here that I am a hopeless romantic. So how does a newly proclaimed hopeless romantic celebrate Valentine's Day? Well . . .in many ways, like any other day. These days, every day feels like Valentine's Day. I know without a doubt that I am loved. My days are filled with those seeminly small but very meaningful gestures such as
  • helping me make the bed first thing every morning
  • making the morning's coffee
  • putting the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher
  • a "Good Morning, I love You!" email or text message every morning
  • a "How's It Going?" phone call at lunch
  • an after school hug that says "I missed you today."
  • gentle reminders about those menial tasks that I tend to put on tomorrow's to-do list but that really need to be done today
  • genuine appreciation for whatever dinner happens to be whether it is a can of soup or something that involves real cooking
  • loading and unloading the dishwasher
  • sitting with me while I grade papers or work on the week's lesson plans
  • talking
  • listening

These are the things that really say, "I love you." Sure, a gift on a special day like Valentine's Day can be nice. But given the choice between candy, flowers, even a fancy piece of jewelry and those daily text messages, I will take the latter any day.

So what did we do today? We happened to be in Austin this weekend for reasons totally unrelated to Valentine's Day. Our gift to ourselves was not setting an alarm clock thsi morning, something that rarely happens these days. We enjoed a lovely brunch together and then headed back to Dallas where when we got home we did a couple loads of laundry, went grocery shopping, and prepared for the school week. That's romantic, huh. You bet! Because we did it all together. Oh, and we shed a few tears as we listened to Mary Chapin Carpenter's song. "Grow Old Along With Me." There's the hopeless romantic shining forth in all its glory.

As we move past February 14th, my hope for all is that each new day will bring with it the love and joy that, for many, are too often reserved only for Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Holiday Cheer

As we approach Valentine's Day, Christmas has faded into the distant past. And almost without notice, January has whizzed by. It is sad that life passes so quickly that once Christmas Day has past, its details are all but forgotten.

Another thing that was gone immediately after December 25th was the bombarding of our Inboxes with enticing advertisements for "the perfect gift." However, like with the retail stores, there were a few Internet stores that had great after Christmas sales in an effort to clear their stock of those things that did not make it on to many people's wish lists.

Always being one to appreciate those things that others may not, Weber was taken by an after-Christmas sale email. Shortly after the first of the new year his purchase was delivered. He opened it without much comment about what was in it. The arrival of the unremarkable brown box went unnoticed by the rest of us. I figured that if he wanted to share it he would and if not, that was certainly OK.

A few weeks later, he called me to "come see." There on a small table that may be the only surface in this house that is not a repository for discarded junk mail were the first stalks of an amaryllis peaking through the mossy layer covering the bulbs. I then understood why every so often he would disappear from the kitchen with a handful of ice cubes. I suppose I should have been a little more curious about that than I was.

Now, a month later, those stalks that stood only an inch or two high are supporting the flower's beautiful blooms. As I walk past them, it looks like they are smiling. How can I not be cheered by these bright faces looking up at me?

And, they arrived just in time for Valentine's Day!