As I sit down to write this, the official change of season is a few hours away. The Hummingbirds left the feeder last week with little notice. They didn’t stop to say goodbye, but simply followed the dictates of nature and continued on their long journey south. Autumn has been my favorite season since I can remember. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say it has been from the time I graduated High School and bid farewell to compulsory education. Beyond the array of October colors and the cooling temperatures, the season brings shorter periods of daylight, lengthening shadows cast by a lower sun, the flight of the birds and the quieter evenings at home that seem to move the spirit. Time slows ever so slightly, and I at least think that I am more relaxed and reflective.
In my early days with the constabulary, autumn was a relief after a busy summer season. Where normal people would consider summer a time of happy, care-free living, cops of my era saw it as nights and weekends filled with disturbances, complaints and conflicts. The hot summer seemed to bring out the worst behaviors in people, most of it fueled by too much booze, too much testosterone and too little sense and maturity. Brawls, drunks, arrests, and accidents were the norm rather than the exception. I began to resent the people who squandered too much of my time with all this nonsense, and so I would wish the summer to end and subsequently elevated Labor Day to my favorite holiday. My mistaken impression of course robbed me of important, present time on earth and an appreciation of what summer in Ipswich could offer. But stupid is as stupid does.
A woman much smarter than me has distilled this lesson even further, distilling the essence of living into three simple sentences,” Life is made up of Moments. Moments create Days, days create Months, months create Years, and years create LIFE. Lose the Moment and you lose Life.”
The ancient philosophers recognized the importance that time has over all things that nature provides us. They stressed that our clocks start running from the moment we are born and provide only a limited run through whatever years we are allowed. They cited the foolishness of how we defend our money, property and other material possessions from bandits of all sorts, but fail to nurture and protect the one thing we all are given control over and that cannot be replaced – our time on earth. The time bandits that the ancients warned against were much like those of our era – absent the accelerant of technology; contentious people, contentious politics, diversions and distractions, the demands of others and the demands we place on ourselves, to name a few.
I think this idea is more easily understood by older people than those of younger years with less sand at the bottom of the hourglass. Older people have marked a good lot of their time responding to the seemingly endless demands of life and often spend more of their present looking backward than forward. When young, life can seem to be filled with a limitless array of adventures to experience and moments to come. The future is always right around the next corner and the promise of another day filled with memorable moments always within reach. Not so much for old-timers. But for all of us, what are those moments, and what adds or detracts from the whole?
Both of my adult kids have a full plate with responsible jobs that take a lot of their time. My youngest believes in living life full on, with days off from work filled with things and social activities, believing that busy days and nights slow the passage of time. My oldest is a bit more reserved, but appears to have a satisfactory ability to create and savor moments of peace on a quieter level. My beloved has yet to take her foot off of the accelerator and can at times seem a bit overwhelmed, especially when wading through much of the b.s. that slides her way. It doesn’t help the situation when her know-it-all husband offers his advice on how to trim back. Again, stupid is as stupid does.
As for me, I’m a card-carrying introvert of decades-long practice with little patience for time bandits and serial distracters. I know them when I see them…. I think. But I often find myself trapped in certain webs of my own creation, handing over my own precious moments to the trivia and detritus of life that seemed so important at the time. Then I discover that like a cheese puff, those things were full of air, leaving me hungry and wishing I had paid closer attention and chosen something else.
The time bandits proliferate in our world, and modern life is filled with an endless stream of distractions and demands, making it very hard to determine just what is ours and what belongs to someone else, if anybody. No cliff notes are provided for us in this regard and we are on are own to develop prisms to stare through to identify the genuine articles. I hope that you keep yours handy.