It’s already 2013? Where does the time go?
Where does the time go?
It seemed like only yesterday that The Wife and I ushered in 2012 in the balcony of The Tennessee Theatre, watching The V-Roys reunite for the first time since 1999. It’s been a whirlwind ever since, and it seems as if someone’s hit fast-forward.
Logically, I know that time is constant. Seconds, minutes, hours, days ... they all move at the same pace, and the 2012 calendar pages melted away at the same pace as every other year. The Earth took no shortcut around the sun, despite what it might seem to those of us who feel it’s simply impossible that 2013 has arrived so soon.
Time’s a funny thing — or rather, the way we experience it sure is peculiar. I remember how, as a child, a school year felt like a life sentence in prison, with the end of May so far away I expected to die of old age before it arrived. Ditto with all of the days my younger self awaited with anticipation: Christmas ... Halloween ... beach vacations. If I had to wait for it, the days stretched into yawning chasms of emptiness so sluggish I felt the need to tap the faces of clocks and watches to ensure they were still working.
Likewise, while caught up in the grips of addiction, time seemed to freeze, locking me in places of darkness and anguish with cold precision. I felt like an inmate of The Phantom Zone, that hellish prison from the Superman comics, unable to break free, watching the rest of the world go about its routine while I languished in the shadows.
Now, my life is rich and full, and there never seems to be enough time to accomplish everything I want to get done. It’s amusing, because I long for a lazy afternoon with nothing to do except read a book or watch a marathon of a really bad TV show. There’s always something to do, something to check off the ever-growing list of tasks that make up my life and routine.
I’m blessed beyond compare these days. I know this. And it’s all too easy to take the things I have in my life — all of the responsibilities and plans and goals — and turn them into burdens. How quick I can be to forget the days when I longed, when I would have sold my very soul, for a mate ... a home ... a child ... a network of friends and loved ones who looked to me to be there for them.
Now, on the far side of that journey, I have to check my attitude on occasion. I can face that mountain of tasks and responsibilities with dread and irritation. Instead of seeing these things for what they are — the bounty of a life well-lived and the accountability I have as a husband, father, employee and friend — I see them as unwanted concerns. I grumble and grouse and act resentful.
Or worse: I feel overwhelmed by everything there is to do and accomplish, and I allow that feeling to paralyze me. I procrastinate and postpone and do nothing, which becomes a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle: The mountain looms larger, the shadows grow deeper and my anxiety increases.
And so I have to apply a couple of things I’ve figured out over the years. One is the answer to that age-old question: How do you move a mountain? One shovel-full at a time. Regardless of the size of the task, I need only do everything I can do with whatever time that I have, concentrating on the details instead of the big picture, and eventually, I will succeed in my endeavors. I’ll chip away at that mountain, and it will be reduced to a pile of dust.
And I have to look for the gratitude in all of it. One of the reasons I’m still active in recovery, even after more than a decade clean, is because newcomers remind me of where I come from, and to where I can return if I allow ego, pride and negativity to win out. I can listen to those who still wrestle with the demons of addiction, men and women who have lost much if not all, and it puts my problems and challenges into perspective.
I come away from a meeting or a phone call, and I realize that everything I deal with today is a “Cadillac problem,” which means that in the grand scheme of things, the things I face on a day-to-day basis are trivial. I don’t struggle daily to get enough to eat ... I don’t wonder where I’m going to sleep at night ... I don’t face the prospect of a debilitating health condition that’s slowly killing me.
In other words, I’m blessed, and everything I face in this life is simply part and parcel of being alive. Life isn’t without challenges or strife; what makes what I have a life instead of simply a mundane existence is how I choose to look at those tasks and go about getting them done.
After all, time is on my side. It may not seem like it, but I face no deadline (other than the ones associated with this newspaper) to make my life better and to improve my little corner of this community. If I do what I can do on a daily basis and give what I undertake my best effort, then I can put my head on the pillow at night knowing I’ve tried. And that while I may not see immediate results, I know that I’m doing what I can to leave this ol’ world a little better than it was when I got here.
That may seem trite or cheesy, but that’s my role as a human being, at least as I understand it. It’s taken a long time for me to figure it out, and with the way that clock seems to speed up, it sometimes seems as if time is running out.
But there will always be time, I realize, to do better. To be better. That’s the only resolution I can make for the new year: To be the best human being I can be. I won’t be perfect, but that’s OK. None of us are. But as long as we keep things in perspective and try our best, we’re all doing alright.
Happy New Year to you all. See you in 2013.
Steve Wildsmith is the Weekend editor for The Daily Times. Contact him at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or at 981-1144.