Time truly has many meanings

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 9, 2010

With my 2009 planner in hand, I sat down to write in appointments and events on two 2010 calendars — one for my desk and one that hangs in the kitchen. As soon as I finished, I wrote the same dates in a new 2010 pocket planner for my purse.

I often reflect on how fleeting time is as I grow older. The prolific author and poet William Dean Howells expressed it this way: “You’ll find as you grow older that you weren’t born such a very great while ago after all.” I have to agree. I thought of that as I flipped the pages in last year’s planner and calendar.

John Foster, a lawyer, military officer, journalist, and diplomat once wrote, “Time is the greatest of all tyrants. As we go on toward age, he taxes our health, limbs, faculties, strength, and features.” I told myself he got that right when I noticed that I had made little notations on the calendars to remind myself to make a telephone call, send an e-mail or mail something on a certain date. Even with those reminders, I occasionally forgot something.

Another thing I noticed when I turned the pages from month to month was how busy we were last year. With the publication of my husband’s first novel, The Secret in Deep Water Swamp in 2008, and the subsequent publication of two more, Perils in the Belgian Congo and Search for the Loony Man, in 2009, we had book signings not only locally but at various out of town locations.

I often complain that there are so many things I need to do that I don’t. My excuse? “I don’t have time.” I’m allotted as much time in a day as the next person, so do I really have an excuse?

Johann von Goethe, German poet and philosopher, said, “We always have time enough, if we will but use it aright.” And Longfellow wrote, “What is time? — The shadow on the dial, the striking of the clock, the running of the sand, day and night, summer and winter, months, years, centuries — these are but the arbitrary and outward signs — the measure of time, not time itself. Time is the life of the soul.”

Other people have had different ideas about time. Sir Isaac Pittman, known for Pittman shorthand, said that well-arranged time is the surest mark of a well-arranged mind. David Hume, Scottish philosopher, historian and economist, said, “A man’s time, when well husbanded, is like a cultivated field, of which a few acres produces more of what is useful to life than extensive provinces, even of the richest soil, when overrun with weeds and brambles.”

Poet Mrs. (Lydia H.) Sigourney wrote, “Time was, is past; thou canst not it recall: time is, thou hast; employ the portion small; time future is not; and may never be: time present, is the only time for thee.”

I have but one New Year’s resolution, to strive to use my fleeting time wisely.