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A wealth of time (05/18/2008)
By Janet Lewis Burns

If the day is too short, it's a sign that you're living to the fullest. Our life's journey can be either a stroll around the block or a cruise across vast, churning oceans. Don't miss the boat!

It was the dumbest excuse ever! Asked to meet her for lunch, because she could take an unexpected, long noon break, her sister begged off by saying, "I just can't today. The house needs tidying up before the cleaning gal comes this afternoon." Sounding lame even to herself, she added, "Besides, I wouldn't have time to do my hair and makeup."

I'm ashamed to admit that I was the sister with the lame excuses, but that was two years ago, at the onset of my retirement from forty years of bookwork. I've lived and learned since. My priorities have been greatly revised.

Character unfolds from all the little things you were too busy to do yesterday but did anyway.

Regrets have accumulated by the time we near our senior years. A typical example is the elderly couple who kept postponing that trip to Ireland for the day they would quit milking, only to realize that it was too late when she developed MS and he was scammed out of their retirement money by a swindling broker. As I watched my young granddaughters dancing to lively music videos, it crossed my mind; when is the last time I danced? They grabbed my arm and we all strutted our stuff around our living room, laughing and singing. I hadn't even given my arthritic back a second thought. It was a blast!

E.B. White mused, "I get up every morning determined to change the world and to have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day difficult."

"When is the last time"?" is a good question for all of us metamorphosing types to ponder. When have you: splashed through a puddle last? picked a bouquet of something growing wild? danced by yourself? paused to visit with an interesting stranger? ridden in a hot air balloon? recorded your thoughts and feelings in a personal journal? went skinny dipping? (Well, it may be too late for that!)

One wonders, how many people who perish in unexpected accidents had been denying themselves favorite foods for years because they felt it was an indulgence they must avoid?

Will the aspiring young writer forever regret turning down the job offer from a big city newspaper just because she didn't want to move away from her high school buddies? In perspective, it seems like a no-brainer.

In retrospect, did the workaholic who developed debilitating arthritis in midlife deeply wish that he had gone on those fishing trips with his brothers, or taken that trail ride in Yellowstone Park when he still had the health and opportunity?

If you were on your deathbed, knowing that you could make only one phone call, who would you call? What would you say? Think about it - why the delay?

Annie Dillard's take on "nothing risked, adventures missed" is as follows: "If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be too cynical, Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down."

One doesn't always realize in the beginning that the greatest thrills and most memorable experiences lie in the journey, not in the destination.

When disappointments and heartaches slow you down and seas become tumultuous, remember - you can't change the direction of the wind but you can adjust your sails.

Bon voyage!

Janet Burns has lived in Lewiston all her life. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.



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