It’s getting late

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Here’s the thing: It’s getting late.

When a person starts thinking of how long he has left, he starts asking himself a lot of questions. Naturally, one thinks there are some things one might like to do a little differently. What exactly is the purpose of some of this extraneous knowledge we carry around? Do I really need to know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? And if so, what other information is being crowded out by including that little fact? The neurons are limited. Sometimes I worry I’m nearing capacity.

Or maybe I’ve already surpassed capacity and now I’m in the phase of overwriting, replacing the once essential information I once carried, for new–and one hopes, better–things. Some experiences will be lost forever as I gain memories of new ones. It’s like all those other books I’ve forgotten I have to read because of all the new ones crowding them out.

There’s no escaping this process while you’re living. Everything is information and everything is an experience. It’s the quality of these things that matters. So when you’re evaluating the stuff of your life, I think a good question to ask is, “Of what value is this stuff I carry?”

You can’t take it with you, you know. Oh, you’ve heard?

But you can leave a lot behind. And I guess just now that thought is making me wonder what I’ll want later generations to have as mementoes. You know. Statues crumble. Paintings fade. Books gather dust. Ah…but the Internet is forever.

I’m only partly kidding. Consider it for a moment. Your grandchildren could be reading your old blog someday. All our gathering information and experiences assumes there’s something greater, more significant, valuable, enjoyable, worthwhile to do with it all. For writers, writing makes the experiences worth the effort. For artists, art. For musicians, music. But even for those who simply live to feel good, there’s some hope of preserving the life they’ve lived. And I suppose if we all wrote like Shakespeare we might have that option open to us, but I’m willing to bet that very little will be treasured (or able to be trasured after it’s aged) from the physical world. Maybe we’re a ways away from the hyperbaric chambers and head plugs (or maybe we’re not), but we all want to escape the “curse” of being human and no one wants to have to die to do it. This little bit of information sells a lot of books, movies, drugs, houses, food, cars, sex, and webspace. You might even say it’s the idea that makes the world go ’round.

None of us will live to see the end of this date with destiny, but you’d better believe that the information and experiences you gather matter. So the last questions I’ve been asking myself recently are, how late is it for me? And would I be doing something else if I knew?

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6 thoughts on “It’s getting late”

  1. They say you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their calendar and their checkbook, and I believe that’s true…
    But what really drives a person is only visible at the heart level, and isn’t always accurately manifest in the outward show of things.
    Perhaps we all need to learn to look beyond our dust jackets and read the white – the background on which the words have been laid, in order to get a fuller picture of one another.
    After all – snazzy covers sell books – and people – far too often, when what really matters is the quality of the content.

  2. Excellent post. I’ve been thinking about the time left for me. At 43 I believe I can safely say half or more of my life is past. I’m been thinking a lot about decisions, choices and actions from my past and considering where I could be had I done things differently. I suppose it’s human natural to take stock like this. What I’m trying to do is plan my next steps to achieve my goals, one of which is to become a published novelist. Just something I feel I was put here to do. My priorities do need some overhauling though to make this happen. I’m in the process of rearranging my life to position myself for this dream to be reality.

  3. I like the thought from Revelation 14:13, that those who die in the Lord are blessed…they rest from their labors because their deeds follow them. It’s interesting to consider that all we think and do does not become dust when we are held in the memory of God.

  4. Humans strive to attain so much, be it knowledge, fame, a pseudo-nirvana quest. What if we who know the Lord began to truly do and go what and where the Spirit led?
    Though often difficult paths await His leading, the supernatural peace that comes from obedience overhauls the fears and frustrations to make them less daunting, ultimately more satisfying.
    We do waste so much of our time here, often doing what the world dictates for us, accelerating our anxieties and confusions. We slip that secular philosophy into our goal making and search for success. How much of that is chaff and will be burned up at the feet of Jesus?

  5. Arrgghh. I think I’m probably the oldest one here, so I’ve been wrestling with this subject for some time now. The bittersweet knowledge that I may not have enough time to accomplish all of my dreams, the realization that I need to take better care of myself or I won’t even finish the projects I’ve started. Add to this the fact that my mother died with Alzheimer’s and my time feels even shorter.
    To me the bottom line is God knows how many days I have. I can’t worry about that part of the equation. But I do know I don’t have as many days left as I did two years ago.
    How does all of this affect my writing?
    I feel a deep need to find a way to connect with non-believers. So many books, magazines and Web sites I see produced by Christians are speaking in terms that will probably never reach the lost. I think it’s of vital importance to find a way to connect our “art” with their “desire for art.”
    That is my goal, in the time I have left. To create something that God can use to reach the lost, whether they read it now or in twenty years.

  6. How do those of us who live in the dense world of ideas measure time? Certainly not by birthdays. I just had one (save your cards and gifts, I don’t need more “stuff” to leave behind), but when I paused to think on that day what had gone before, I realized I wasn’t just three years older than the day I turned 45…I was decades older.
    But maybe tomorrow I’ll be 25 again.
    Time may flow like a river, but as we find ourselves in it, those of us who live for the transcendent are sometimes graced with the unexpected gift of being able to reach forward or backward with the long arms of ideas.
    Yes, the truth of that flowing river (as you note above) means I won’t be able to get to a fraction of the 160 or more ideas I have on my “to write list” before I am dumped into the ocean.
    Sometimes that sobering truth stymies me, keeps me from writing anything at all. But other times…like right now…I realize my life is not about “writing all that I long to write.” It’s about being whoever I am in any given moment. It just so happens who I am much of the time is someone who must put words on paper.
    But not always.
    I don’t know if I’ll ever finish another book. Another blog post. Another email.
    I do know I’ll keep reaching. Often fighting against the current. Sometimes giving into it.
    And ultimately I think that’s what I want to carry. The reaching. The fighting. The giving in. I suspect words will come from much of that. Maybe a novel. Maybe two.
    Or maybe just these words.
    I’m okay with that.

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