The tape measure of life: “ it is better to get there ”
We all have activities on the back burner that we want to go to, when time permits. For me, it’s going back to photography, a hobby I was in college in and which got hijacked when everything went digital. Although I bought a decent digital camera, its usefulness outside of holding a stack of books is limited. With a full-time job, long commutes, my counseling duties, and keeping our gardens from returning to nature, the weather just doesn’t seem to allow it now. I relayed it to Bob on the ferry some time ago who started removing a tape measure, I wasn’t going to ask him why he is carrying a tape measure with him. How old do you think you’re going to be before you end up in the memorial garden, he asks. 85, I say. Bob continues to extend the tape measure to 85 inches and asks me to show where I am now, just turned 50 last week. It was an instant visual representation of the brevity of life. The message, you better understand.
This is something that most of us who have crossed the hill crossing mark can relate to, because with skiing the descent is much faster than the climb. Time flies by and before you know it you start to wonder where it all happened. It’s so easy to just put yourself in cruise control, let the days go by. A client of mine, Peter, in the early 1980s remarked how easy it is to not appreciate the moments in everyday life, to not appreciate the things we do on a daily basis. It is so easy to be unaware and let go of the day to day. Peter showed me how he avoids getting into this state of mind. He took out a little notebook where he wrote down a few simple events of the day and rated them on a scale of one to 10, 10 being an amazing day and one being a day he’d rather forget. I haven’t seen any or ten, which is to be expected, life rarely turns from desperation to fireworks, but there have been plenty of sevens and eights – not bad – but days that are easy to forget if you don’t. pay no attention. Peter also used to plan something new for the next day, what a great way to break the monotony of life. It also prompted him not to get into worrying, unproductive, anxiety-inducing thought patterns.
I was recently sitting in my pyre overlooking our garden, my cat was playing with a poor creature and our rooster was tangling at full volume and here I was thinking of a bill from Telus that I still had to pay. If you had asked me for my most desirable scenario on Bowen, I was pretty much living it but here I was thinking of a most trivial task, not taking advantage of what I had right in front of me. How did I let my brain get here and how do I get out of this brain wave. If this beautiful moment can’t immerse me in the moment, what will it do? Sometimes I wonder if we have a worry center in our brain that just needs to be fed. At least it was just an irritating phone bill, my problems could be much worse. The problem, of course, is when that worry center grows too big, begins to eat away at our other thoughts, and begins to occupy too much of our daily life, even though we have it so well. Living in the moment seems like the right thing to do, but it can be difficult. Worrying about the future can often creep in, even when there is nothing we can do about it in the present. We have to be confident that we will be able to manage it when we need to. As the saying goes, you can only see right up to your headlight, but know that you can do the entire trip that way.
Turning 50 has been an interesting experience. My Facebook ads have changed dramatically, hair loss products, early retirement plans, and e-pedal or pedal bikes jump out at me when I search social media. Seniors no longer say, “Oh, you’re still so young”. I get a lot more, “Welcome to the club.” In my Dutch culture, 50 marks a turning point in the life of a man symbolized by the figure of Abraham, a sign of becoming wise. We’ll see if that happens.