Saturday, August 12, 2017

Time and chance happen to all

When you hit 40 or 50, people joke that you are over the hill. Unless I'm really, really tired, I don't feel my age and I don't think I look as old as my mother did at my age. But my perspective on life has changed. At 50, I realized that I am past, maybe well past, the half-way point. More people are younger than me than older than me. While I still feel young inside, I can't deny my age, even though I am more fit and healthy than many of my peers.

Last month I turned 54 and remembered how much I looked forward to my 50th birthday, amazed at how long I've lived. Five decades. A half century. The four years since that milestone flew by so quickly! When I started college at 18, four years was more than 20% of my life. Now, it's less than 8%. Before I know it, I'll be 60, God willing. As you get older time accelerates like a ball rolling down hill. 

I don't really enjoy running on a treadmill but I do it because it's good exercise. To make a treadmill run less boring, I select a virtual workout so I can run up a few hills and look at some scenery - Angels Landing, the Wave, the Black Hills. To keep myself going, I figure out what percentage of my run is complete - 10%, 25%, 50% and so on. It motivates me to see the fraction get bigger and bigger because I'm closer to the finish.

Sometimes life is like that but instead of wishing the miles away, we wish the days away. We spend the week days wishing it were the weekend. Or we count down the weeks until vacation.

Unlike a run on the treadmill, I can't figure out what percentage of my life is complete. It could be 50% or 70% or I could die tomorrow. In planning for my financial future, I have to expect to live into my 90's like my grandmother. But when my mother passed away at only 76, I saw how foolish it was to assume I would have her around for 20 more years.

Time and chance happen to us all. Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be. The future's not ours to see. Que sera, sera. 

This hit home for me last week. Hard. Greg, my brother-in-law of 37 years, passed away unexpectedly in his sleep at only 56. I think about the things he didn't get to do. Little things. He'll never drive the scenic route from Limon to Denver that he told me he'd like to take. He didn't get to visit the Konza Prairie with me.

I don't think my brother-in-law had a bucket list. He wasn't that kind of guy. His life was complete even if he never went bungee jumping or traveled around the world or tried sushi. He filled his jar with the big rocks of life - his wife and kids and grand kids. He helped out his neighbor. He took good care of his yard. He enjoyed being around people.

When King Solomon looked back on his life, he also became reflective. He saw how random life is, how futile certain pursuits are. "However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all. But let them remember the days of darkness, for there will be many."

The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come. As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.

When the unexpected happened to my sister, she told me she prayed for the strength to get through one day at a time. That's all any of us can do. She'll go to work and spend time with her family.
One day at a time sweet Jesus  
That's all I'm asking from you.
Just give me the strength
To do everyday what I have to do.
Yesterday's gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine.
Lord help me today, show me the way 
One day at a time.
Reelin' in the years. Stowin' away the time. Life goes on and so do we.

On this side of the hill, I'm not in such a big-ass hurry. I've figured out that the race is not to the swift but to those who endure, to those who keep going on day after day - putting one foot in front of the other. 

Enjoy your years. Take the scenic route. Stop and smell the roses. Chat with a stranger. Don't worry so much about what people think. Eat, drink, and enjoy your work.

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