Don't let precious gift of time slip away
The orange on the kitchen shelf deserved better. I had placed it there above the sink in plain view so I would not forget to take it with me the next morning.
And yet, four or five days went by, and the orange sat unnoticed by me in my many trips to the sink. Then on this morning, it caught my eye and I thought, “Fool, you should have remembered! You move too fast and don’t pay attention.”
Then I began the process of letting myself off the hook: “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You can have it now.” Then I reached for the orange and felt the backside begin to collapse upon my grasp and found my fingers dusted with the powdery mold, which had grown from my neglect.
I am full of excuses. They have gathered in me, and I find them spilling out of as I reflect upon the past year.
Tasks, art projects, and most importantly, relationships have sat neglected like the orange on my kitchen shelf. Shoulda’, coulda’, woulda,’ if only I had remembered, if only I had made the time.
After all, I am a very busy person, a very important person, and it must be a very important matter if I am going to make the time for it.
What a load of arrogant bull crap!
I can consume time. I can spend time. But I cannot make time — anymore than you can. It is a gift we are given each day to spend as we see fit.
And upon reflection I have found that I have not spent my time as well as I should have. Does the orange feel neglected or the empty art frame I planned to fill feel unfulfilled? Do those people who I care for and love even notice that I have not afforded them a portion of my time?
And that is my fault.
Out of sight, out of mind. But with the orange on the shelf, I have demonstrated that not only can I be blind to what is in plain sight, but make myself invisible as well. And who do I cheat? The orange, the frame, my family, my friends? No. I cheat myself of the very things I should cherish and desire most.
To make matters worse I lie to myself, saying, tomorrow I will eat the orange, tomorrow I will begin that art project.
Tomorrow I will do something, anything, more worthwhile with my time than watching a rerun of a second-rate television show that I had wasted time on the first time it was shown.
When I was younger I was impatient, chasing life and experiences for fear they would escape. I truly valued time.
We would like to think that with age we have come to value time more. But I’m not so sure. Reading this you may recognize that like me, the years have tarnished your perception of time and have caused you to take it for granted at a point in our lives that we should most cherish it.
We have replaced impatience with cynicism, enthusiasm with apathy and eagerness and desire with disdain. All of that rolls into a special type of arrogance that somehow we have evolved and moved beyond the simplest of pleasures and most important of needs.
And as a result of that arrogance we have put off initiating and fostering relationships old and new. Then, as our precious gift of time slips away, we are left with the bitter realization that we have let fruit that would have given pleasure and nourishment rot upon the shelf.
Curtis Weber is a registered nurse at Children’s Mercy Hospital. He lives in Raymore. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Editorial Page, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108.