31,536,000 Seconds

What is it with us and time?  We make time. We waste time.  We save time.  Time flies when we are having fun.  We ask questions like: “Where has the time gone?”  And “What time is it?”  We are obsessed with time.  So much so that we even have a specific holiday set aside to mark the passage of time.

Time isn’t life, but it certainly defines our perspective on life.  Time shapes how we see life.  Time influences how we perceive our current reality.  Don’t believe me?  Ask yourself this question:  Do you worry about young people today because the world they are growing up in isn’t the same as the world you grew up in?

Well, guess what?  If you could go back in time and meet your parents, your grandparents and your great grandparents, when they were your age, they would have felt this very same worry.  Not because the world is actually getting worse.  But because of everyone’s personal perspective on the world, based on the amount of time anyone has spent in the world.

Yes, a minute is always a minute and a month is always a month and a year is always a year.  But, how you perceive the passage of time, as you get older, changes.  When you are young summertime is an eternity.  The feeling that you have when you return to school, after the summer, is that so much has changed.  Why?  Because so much had changed.  Your body grew.  Your voice changed.  Your interests changed.  Now summer is simply a couple months.  A couple pay periods.  A couple billing cycles.

Let me put this another way.  When my family moved to Venice, twenty-two years ago, I was out walking my dog in the neighborhood.  I met one of our new neighbors and we stopped to talk.  As we introduced ourselves I asked him how long he had lived in Venice.  To which he replied “Twenty-two years”.  I did some quick figuring in my head and that meant that this man and his family had moved to Venice when I was in sixth grade.

To me, the twenty-two years between sixth grade and our moving to Venice seemed so much longer than the twenty-two years that my family has now lived in Venice.  The distance between sixth grade me to that time seems so much longer than that time to the current me.  Even though I know that it’s not.  Twenty-two years is twenty-two years.  The difference is my perspective.

Ecclesiastes 8:6 puts it this way: “For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a person may be weighed down by misery.”  The reason why you and I, and our parents and our grandparents and our great grandparents, worry about the world young people are inheriting.  The reason why your perspective on life is so much different today than it was when you are were young.  Is the fact that all people, as they age, are weighed down by misery.

If you live long enough you will have trials and tribulations.  You will experience loss and pain and suffering.  The longer you live, the more you will experience.  And it’s this weight of misery on your life that gives you the perspective on time that you currently hold.

Yuck!  Right?  That’s a real downer.  But, you know, deep down, that it’s true. And this realization isn’t meant to rain on your parade.  This realization wasn’t shared by God in the Bible as some form of punishment or edict from a vindictive God, who is simply punishing you the longer you live.

This reality was shared because it’s a simple, natural fact of life, as we know it on this side of eternity.  And the blessing of knowing this fact can and will influence your perspective on life from this point forward.  For, let’s face it, without this perspective, all of us will simply sit around, watch the news and bemoan our current reality.  Which will pile on the misery, which alters our perspective on time.

Life isn’t moving faster.  You have simply spent more time healing from life’s wounds than you did as a child.  And as only someone who has lived for a while can attest, time moves very differently in the healing process than it does when one is healthy.  Life isn’t better or worse now than it was when you were a kid.  You have simply experienced more struggles, which has changed your perspective.

So, cut yourself and the world some slack this New Year.  Life is just as good as it was when you were young.  It’s different, but since when has different always meant worse?  Be aware of the weight of misery that’s in your life.  Don’t bemoan it or deny it or even detest it.  See it as a badge of honor.  For there are far too many people who haven’t had the chance to experience the weight of misery in their life.  For they didn’t live long enough.  May you have a happy New Year.  And may God be with you through all of your next 31,536,000 seconds!