My favorite Twilight Zone episode is called “Time Enough at Last.” It’s about Henry Bemis, a henpecked bank employee, who is a bookworm. One day, Henry takes his lunch and a book into the bank vault. When he comes out, the world has been destroyed by a nuclear blast, and everyone is dead. He finds a stash of food, enough to last him a long time.
So Henry, smart man, heads for the library. As he sorts the books into piles, his glasses fall off his head and he accidentally steps on them.
All the books in the world, and all the time in the world to read them, but no way to see. Life just isn’t fair.
The older I get, the more I think about time. All the time left to me in this world. I recently bought an old-fashioned ticking clock because I heard the sound was soothing to puppies (I had a puppy last year for a short time). But I find the ticking of the clock to be restful for me as well.
I especially appreciate the clock when I am meditating. Clocks – a symbol of time – tick on and on, always at the same speed. Never faster, never slower. Somehow that thought is comforting to me in an elemental way. My life is moving into its next-to-last era. But I have no power to make it go slower, nor can it go faster. I can’t “make our sun stand still.”
Andrew Marvel’s poem “To HIs Coy Mistress” begins “Had we but world enough and time…” and describes how he would love his mistress until “the last age.” But,
“…at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.”
I’ve probably said this before, but I believe it’s worth repeating, that the older we get the more patient we are. The young, with all their lives ahead of them, are impatient. They want things to happen NOW. They rush around town in their mini-vans (I did it too), with carloads of pre-teenagers. As my daughter-in-law says, “This is our job right now,” caring for children.
So what’s my job right now, with at most two more decades of life left?
The older I get, the more determined I am not to spend time doing things I don’t want to do. I heard someone at the library today talking about the new Harry Potter book. She said, “I spent 5 hours of my life reading it.” With not enough time to read all the books I want to read, I’m much more selective about what I read. I seldom finish a fiction book, unless it’s a mystery. I used to love science fiction but I can’t deal with it now for some reason. I never re-read a book, although I am considering re-reading the Lord of the Rings.
As I turned 60 (almost a decade ago now) and my mother died, I began to think more about the time left to me, and I retired. I was accused of being “selfish,” and I would agree with that. Who else’s life am I going to live but my own.
How will you spend the rest of your life? Will you spend it running around with no intent? Will you spend it doing what others want you to do?
Are you considering a job change? Maybe you want to move, to be closer to family – or further away. I know sometimes circumstances don’t let us do what we want, but we can start making plans.
A young woman I know is struggling about whether to stay in a bad marriage. She has a young son and is worried that divorce would hurt him. It may, but the hurt to her fills me with sadness. I would say, “find your own life.” Leave that dark life and Find Your Green.
Time’s a wasting. Don’t waste another minute. Find a way to live the life you want to live, with who you want to be with and where you want to be.
You’ll never find the time later.