When we’re young, New Year’s Eve is another good reason to have a party but as we age, it may no longer seem such a big deal – just another night signifying the passage of time. The new calendar can just signify the passage of time.
This Christmas, one of my favourite families of patients gave me an hourglass. For those of you too young to have ever owned a watch (because your phone always tells you the time), the hourglass was once the timepiece of choice between the sundial and the clock.
The hourglass vividly illustrates the unstoppable flow of time as the grains of sand stream from the upper to lower spheres. It reminds me of the power of gravity and time. Older patients referring to changes in their skin and body contours often ask, “Is this due to age?” I comfort them, telling them, “It’s due to sunshine and gravity . . . over time.”
At some point in your life – well, midlife, you will notice that the sand in the upper sphere has become ever smaller in proportion to the mound in the sphere of past time. You have lived most of your life, and the years ahead are numbered.
When we’re young, we are energized by our dreams. It seems we have unlimited time to achieve them. As we age, time seems to move more quickly. It really doesn’t.
Time becomes more precious. We must use what remains more wisely.
We create the list – the bucket list – the places we’d love to see, the activities we’ve always wanted to do and the crucial words we must say. We long to become the person we were each meant to be.
When I became a parent, I started a New Year’s tradition. With three busy children, we recorded on our kitchen calendar the schedule for school, sports, music and dance lessons, dinners, shows and other family events.
Before tossing out the old calendar in the New Year, we would walk through its well-worn pages remembering the school concerts, movies, parties and graduations – the activities and milestones that we have lived together.
Though this is an annual tradition, I am always amazed with what we have done and how much happens in just one year.
But the passage of time – the living of our lives – is so much more than the busyness of our activities. The most important part of our year-end ritual is the reflection.
What have we learned? What did we enjoy? What did we survive? How did we help others, and how were we helped?
In answering these questions, we come to appreciate how we have endured and grown from challenging experiences. We are always learning. We may be rewarded with success but at other times, we learn from our failures and mistakes.
With gratitude, we remember who has helped us along the way – those who have been our constant companions, reminding us that we are never alone and those who have given support when it was most needed. Remembering how we have helped others, strengthens our identity as being connected to a greater whole.
Recognizing that time is precious – the hours in a day and days in a year are limited, how will we allot our time in the coming year?
What will we do more of (the activities that give the greatest value)? What should we do less (activites that bring less value)? What should we eliminate from each day’s activities (those things that give little value and are really a waste of time)? What can we create (something new that will transform our lives)?
This is your year. This is your day. What will you do with your time?
Dr. Davidicus Wong will be giving a free public talk, What You Should Know About Diabetes at the Tommy Douglas Branch of the Burnaby Public Library at 7311 Kingsway (near Edmonds) at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, January 16th, 2018. To reserve your spot, register in person, by phone (604 522 3971) or online. For more on achieving your positive potential in life, read his blog at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.