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Monthly Archives: April 2014

I was always late. My mother would ask me to do something and I would answer, “In a minute.” She would exclaim, “I’ll be on my deathbed, drawing my last breath, they’ll call and your answer will be ‘In a minute.” 

I have a friend who habitually boarded flights at the last minute. A few years ago, in response to a page he picked up a terminal phone.  When he identified himself, he was asked, “Do you own a 1998 blue Mercedes Benz?” He responded he did and the man on phone inquired, “Do you have your car keys?” After searching his pockets, my friend replied “No. why?” The man responded, “I didn’t think so, since your car is still running in front of the terminal.” Late to catch his flight, he pulled up to the terminal and left the car running. He now allows plenty of time to catch a plane.

I had a boss who held weekly staff meetings at six-thirty in the morning. I would awaken an hour before the meeting and rush to be on time—only to sit and wait for a habitually late employer.  It was obvious he did not consider our time to be of value.  Thinking about how I was treated, I realized my habitual tardiness demonstrated a disregard of others and resolved to make an effort to be on time.

We have many ways keeping time: wrist and pocket watches, alarm clocks, clocks on our computers, automated calendars and clocks on our cell phones. We measure time: the length of a ball game, the time it takes to bake a cake and how long to go from A to B. We record time: the hour and minute the plane struck the World Trade Center, the time of birth and the time of death. We talk about time: when it snowed, the year our team won the national championship and the last time we were together. Perhaps we are obsessed with time because we don’t know how much we have.

Since time is limited and more cannot be obtained, it is a person’s most valuable possession.  When shared, it is a gift to be treated with respect and received with gratitude. 

Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence — neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish — it is an imponderably valuable gift.” – Maya Angelou

When Farris Bryant became Florida’s governor, he invited me to serve as his page during the 1960 legislative session. 

The governor’s administrative secretary explained if I wanted to get paid, I had to have a Social Security number . He gave me directions to the local social security administration office and by the end of the day I was in possession of a social security number.

For over 50 years, this number has appeared on employment applications, payroll reports and income tax returns. When I tried to use the card to get into the Peppermint Lounge in New York City, the bouncer threw me out by my collar and back of my pants; the owner of the restaurant where I worked while in college had it; the Army used it as my ID number; and it appears on the records of my father’s company.

All the years of paying into the system I never thought about taking money out. It was just another tax, especially when I have been self-employed.  Now I’m one of the “codgers” scrutinizing my bank account to ensure my social security check has arrived.

We undergo changes as we enter each decade of our life: 20’s, entering the workforce; 30’s, fatherhood; 40’s, power and responsibility; 50’s, the first AARP notice and 60’s, a Social Security Administration notice about retirement.  When asked, what surprised him most about life, Billy Graham answered, “How fast it goes by.”  How right he was—yesterday, I was applying for a social security number and today, I am reaping the benefits.

Remember the ad? “Life comes at you fast.” A more accurate wording is, “Life goes past fast.” Because life goes by fast, we cannot afford to sacrifice precious time living in the past, dwelling on problems or fearing the future. After all, we can’t change yesterday, today’s problems will be history tomorrow, and tomorrow we will be in the future we looked towards today.