Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Myth of Time

And in these days when darkness falls early
And people rush home to the ones the love. 
You better take a fool’s advice and take care of your own
One day they’re here; next day they're gone...

"New York Minute" - Don Henley

A wonderfully bright, insightful friend of mine (she uses really small words when she communicates with me - I get by) shared something on the Leviathan that is "social media" yesterday that immediately struck a chord within me.  

It did so not only because I often lament the relentless, predatory nature of time and the lie inherent in phrases such as "I have all the time in the world" and "I have nothing but time", which are uttered so often and with such deliberate nonchalance that we might occasionally delude ourselves into believing them.  

Rather, it resonated with me because it was only one day earlier that I had read the unbelievably tragic story of the Clarke family from Watchung, New Jersey.  On June 5, which was a beautiful Sunday evening, Jimmy and Jane Clarke were sitting outside of their little piece of Paradise by the Sea, which for the Clarkes is on Long Beach Island, reading and enjoying a quiet late spring evening.  Out of nowhere, a friend of their fifteen-year-old son, Peter, ran up upon them to share harrowing news:  Another friend of Peter's had gotten into trouble in the water and Peter and one of his friends - having gone into the water in an effort to save their friend - were now trapped out there alongside him.  The message was clear:  Peter and his friends needed help.  Peter needed his dad.  

Jim Clarke, fifty-five years old, never hesitated.  He threw down the book he had been reading, seated beside his bride of twenty-four years, and headed into the water - 100 yards or so - to rescue his son and the sons of two other families.  Jim Clarke was a man who accomplished the things he set out to accomplish and he accomplished his solo rescue of three teenage boys.  He got all three of them to shore safely.  

As he reached the beach himself, however, and staggered out onto the sand, Jane Clarke knew what a wife knows by simply glancing at the man with whom she had built a life:  Jim was in trouble.  He collapsed.  A short while later he was gone.  Dead at the age of 55.   

How quickly can life change unalterably and irrevocably?  In less time than it takes to finish reading the chapter of a book.  You have all the time in the world?  No you do not.  Not today.  Not tomorrow.  Not ever.  

And since you cannot control time's quantity, you owe it to yourself to maximize its quality.  Not simply for yourself, but for those you love, those who love you, and those who occupy your day-to-day.  

Here, I pay forward the great gift that Michelle shared with me - and with anyone else who happened to see what it was she had posted.  Whether the image remains fixed in your mind's eye matters not as long as the message does.  It is the latter - and not the former - that is important. 


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