I finally did something this week. I do lots of things each week but the focus of this column is a task that is a decade overdue. This isn’t a column about work ethic or time management-I have those skills. It is a short reflection on time.
I get very anxious before I go anywhere outside my home area. The way I respond to this is by making sure every problem that may occur in my absence is eliminated. Lisa and I planned a trip with Teresa and Jeanette back in 2007. The trip was through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and I might has well have been going to the moon. I was really nervous about the whole thing and had created checklists for the previous month.
As we were left our home for our big trip, I noticed that the old barb wire fence was loose. It had probably been loose for some time but my standards for everything raise along with my anxiety. I was leaving home now for a week and my anxiety was sky high. We stopped on the gravel road and I walked down the ditch and found a stick. I took the stick and wound it into the loose barb wire and then twisted it until the fence was pretty well-tensioned. I told everyone in the car that would be the first thing I fixed once we returned.
When we returned, my anxiety was gone. I thought that the fence still looked okay and focused on other things. Ten years later, that stick was still there and the fence still looked pretty good however it was time for a change. I removed all of the barbed wire, trimmed the trees in the area and then replaced the barb wire with high-tensile wire. It looks much better.
Here’s the thing; that was ten years. There were many things that happened during that time; loved ones died, babies were born, big things happened but time still ticked away. I can look back to twisting that branch into the barb wire and it seems like yesterday. I’m lucky that the four people on that trip out west are still alive and well but the time used since then is dead and gone, leaving only memories.
I took that stick out of the fence and was going to throw it into the pile but stopped. It seemed wrong to just throw the stick away after it had loyally kept the fence tight for a decade. It also represented ten years of time passage and also the gift of knowing my own mortality. Life is finite and one day we will all be lucky to be a fond memory to the living. It represented more than just itself, it represented a call to live my life instead of just enduring life. I just can’t throw the stick, I’m going to keep it.