Thursday, December 6, 2012

On Turning 35

Yesterday was my birthday and I turned 35-years-old.  No great wisdom fell upon me as the clock struck midnight, but it has given me some time for reflection. 

I am now 2 years older than Jesus was when he ended His earthly life.  Fr. Larry Richards once said that most of us, if we knew we only had 33 years on this Earth would ask, "How much, in that time, can I get?"  Jesus said: "I only have 33 years.  How much can I give?"  I have been given another 2 years so far than Our Lord, and I am thinking about how much time that I give and how much that I waste.

Peter Kreeft said something once that struck me deeply: time is life.  When you give your time to something, you never get it back.  And we only have a minute amount of grains in our hourglass before it empties.  What you give your time to is that which is most important to you because you are giving your life, second by second.

And I waste so much time.

I'm talking about the things that seem frivolous like playing Halo with my friends until we hear the chimes at midnight or arguing with my family about which were the best songs from Grease 2.  Or sitting on the couch with my wife watching old episodes of Lost.  To the outside, those might seem like empty pastimes, but in reality is acts as part of the mortar that keeps our relationships together. 

No, when I am talking about wasting time, I'm referring to all of that dead space.  Those times when nothing is done.  It is characterized by that horrible sense of waste that comes after.  It's those countless hours I spend flipping stations late at night.  It's vacant expanse when I'm surfing the Internet with no real purpose.  It's the time that I just sit there paralyzed by inertia and boredom. 

All of that is time that is wasted and life that I can never get back.

And the worst part of it is, there are still so many things I want to do that require time.  I have all of these stories stuck in my head that I've started writing but never finished.  There are places I would like to travel (though not many) but never have.  There are people I've lost contact with that I would like to write to and tell them the impact they've had on my life.  My excuse is that I haven't found the time.  But the truth is that I've found it, but poured much of it down the drain.  If I died tomorrow, I feel like I would have had a half-finished life.

But I think most of us feel this way.  And I don't think more time will change that for most of us.  I'll probably still feel this way when I'm 90 (God willing I get there).  In the movie The Edge, there is a character who is dying.  He was rich, famous, had many beautiful lovers and lavish luxuries, but he lamented, "I'm going to die and I haven't done anything!"  And yet to the outside observer, here was a man who lived large; a man who really "lived."  And yet though he seemed rich in life, he was poor in the ways that mattered.

I think the key to making your time count is knowing that your hourglass will run empty.  A character on The Walking Dead once said, "Time: we always think that there's more of it.  Then it's gone."  This is so sad, but so true.

 Psalm 90:12 says, "Teach us to number our days aright that we main wisdom of heart."   I don't know about you, but I work best on a deadline.  At my school, we have produced 6 full length feature films in the film club that I run.  These are long, time-consuming projects that I don't think would ever get done except for the fact that we very early on set a premiere date.  Last year, we were running behind, very behind, on our production schedule.  One of my collaborators suggested that we push the premiere back.  I firmly said no.  Because we needed that fixed point on the horizon, or we would lose our drive forward.  We only had a limited amount of time and we needed to use it wisely.

But that is true of our lives, isn't it?  We only have a limited amount of time and we need to use it wisely.  I need to use it to tell the people I love that I love them, to give away that which needs to be given, and to perfect my soul and help perfect the souls of the ones I love.   I want to spend these next 35 years wasting it less and using it more.  And not just using it, but giving it.  Time is a gift to us from God, and we must give that gift to others.  Children know this.  Mom and Dad can give them lots of material things.  But what they really want is time with their parents.  Because time is life.  And giving life is the greatest sign of love.

And I will give my life as best I can to service for the Lord.  But also to playing Halo with my friends until we hear the chimes at midnight, arguing with my family about which were the best songs from Grease 2, and sitting on the couch with my wife watching old episodes of Lost.

I met my wife when I was 17-years-old.  Now that I am 35, I have now known her for more than half my life.  I now have more life with her than without her.  And that I can't think of a better way to spend the next 35 years and the rest of my life.

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