Time is a tricky mistress – let’s not waste it in 2015
So here we are – at the beginning of a brand new year. And once 2015 was officially launched with the customary glass of champagne and box of spectacular bangers, the first treat of my year was, as always, the pleasure of adding the first entries to a virgin diary. I savour and save this moment until 1 January because there’s something uniquely seductive about the empty pages and smell of potential that never fails to evoke a sense of optimism and excitement coupled with concrete reality as I enter the year’s family milestones and January’s appointments. I pencil in plans and ideas. And ink in deadlines. I love a good deadline: for starters they keep me focused because missing a deadline per definition is not an option, and secondly, deadlines denote a chain process. Being a part of a greater something, or at least in theory.
I’ve been spending some hours on the family tree over New Year, and it struck me how time truly is a tricky mistress. While an equaliser in many ways — we all have the same number of hours in the day regardless of the century we are born in or the size of our wallets — nobody knows how many days we have to live. Members of my family tree have lifespans ranging from a few hours to 107 years. I’m assuming I’ll fill my diary in 2015, but there is no guarantee.
I do know, however, that 2015 will hold times and events I currently know nothing about but will find hard. A funeral, perhaps. An illness. A disappointment, a set back. Similarly, there will be moments of so far unchartered bliss and good news. But who knows where or when. Or what.
So I look at the family tree and wonder how they lived their lives. Did they dream big dreams and, more importantly, did they fulfil them? Or did they die with regrets of what could have been if only they had taken better care and control of matters that were actually in their own hands? I think of the number of hours I while away on social media, the number of times I successfully procrastinate in a week, of all the activities I meant to do in 2014 but never did. The recipes I was going to try, the films I meant to see. The phone calls I should have made to old pals. Regrets, I have a few. Tiddely-pom.
Flipping channels on the television reinforces my resolution to make better use of the finite time I have left on this earth. Documentaries remembering the 2004 Tsunami, updates on the plight of flight QZ8501, the latest Ebola death statistics. Bomb explosions, fires and crashes. All unpredictable and devastating fates that reap lives and kill the dreams of its victims.
I once read that each year we unwittingly pass the anniversary of our own death. It is a sobering thought. But what if that date were pre-printed in my new diary? Or worse, imagine buying a personalised diary in which the pages suddenly go blank as of a given date in 2015. How would I live then?
Some say we should live each day as if it were our last. I don’t hold with that. My last day would not be spent blogging or editing my novel. It would be spent with my family and friends, with my pets, with wonderful music and fantastic food. I’d light candles in the winter or lie in the summer sun. I’d find a sunset and watch the light fade away. My last day would be perfectly unproductive and not a long-term option.
Which must mean that it’s all about balance.
This year my resolutions involve working harder and playing harder. My professional goals involve finishing my debut novel and finishing the first draft of its sequel. My private goals are all about staying in touch with friends and trying something new. Going for regular walks in the forest, watching the seasons change and breathing in clean contentment. I will cut down on calories and if I achieve my desired weight – fabulous. If not, there’s always next year. And if there isn’t a next year, it won’t matter anyway.
My resolution for 2015 is not to waste time. It’s our most precious non-renewable commodity.
May I wish you all a perfectly fulfilling and Happy New Year.