Monday 2 March 2015

The fleetingness of time

We are talking about death a lot here. Not in a morbid, depressing kind of way, but as part of the normal conversation. My father-in-law passed away five years ago, and Marianne has mentioned a few times how much he always wanted to see Hawaii (he never did). Lesson: Time is limited. Take every chance that presents itself. 
She is also the last woman standing out of the four siblings they used to be: her brother and two sisters all passed away many years ago. Lesson: You never know how much time you have.

She talks mostly about her home village and the people who live in it, which has always been her way. Rich knows the people she talks about, I don't - but there are stories there that are interesting nonetheless.

Yesterday she mentioned the old man who, at 80 years of age, built himself another house to live in. He passed away 8 years later, and the common opinion of the locals was "That wasn't worth it!", and "What a crazy old fool". I beg to differ. What a great thing to do! I don't know his reasons for building a house, but whatever they were, I'm sure this project gave his life purpose and joy. Creating something is one of the most satisfying things one can do, and why should there be an age limit?
The day you stop dreaming is the day you stop living, and once you don't have a purpose in your life you have given up. That's the moment when old people die, because their will to live ceases to exist.

Another lady she likes to harrumph about is a neighbour who is 83 years old, drives a Mercedes, and loves to hike. She drives herself in her sleek little car 700km south to the Alps to go hiking every year, a practice the locals shake their heads over. "She's too old to go hiking in the mountains!", they proclaim, and gossip about the inappropriateness of the actions of a single woman of that age.
She is my hero. Why should you stop doing what you love just because you are a widow? Or single? Or of a certain age? To hell with it! Do what you want, for as long as you can.

Remember those lessons: Time is limited. We never know how much time we have left.

Small towns can be hard to live in. Both Rich and I grew up in small towns and needed to break out. They can be like prisons, with walls formed by the judgments and prejudice of the people living there. If you are surrounded by narrow minds and a can't do-attitude long enough, it will start to affect you. It snuffs out your creativity, and makes you question the wisdom and sense of your aspirations. At some point, you will give up. If not, you will have to deal with criticism and ridicule all your life.
Narrow-minded people won't understand, because they don't want to. You can spend all your life explaining the reasons behind your dreams, and they will never get it.
The only way to convince them is by doing what you want anyway, and to succeed. If things work out, they will approve of it after the fact. Better yet, they will  be convinced that it was their idea all along! Hindsight is 20/20.  

But I digress. Living with family in close quarters brings up all sorts of memories and baggage from way back, sheesh.

Time is the subject of the day.
Rich and I have always been conscious of the limited time we have, because of our age difference. While every living creature on this earth has only a limited amount of time that will run out some point, most young people rarely think about it. Our giant hourglasses with the sand running through are always on the back of our minds. They govern many of the decisions we make. Me working part-time, our life on the farm and going on vacation as much as possible are all part of it.
We try to spend as much time as we can together, and make the most of it. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

A few years ago I read the top five regrets of the dying, as recorded by a palliative nurse, and they have stayed with me ever since.

They are:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

I think about these regrets often, because I want to learn from them. The 83-year old hiker introduced earlier won't have any regrets when her time comes, and neither did the 80-year old house builder. At least that's what I fervently hope for them.

Let's be conscious of the fleetingness of time, and live the shit out of life! It will be over before we know it.



  1. I can totally relate. Just recently my grandmother passed away while I was still in Slovenia, she lived 89 years full of love, loss and everything in between. She taught me how to get up in moments when no one knows expects you to do it. This post is beautiful! We are not defined by what has happened to us but by how we choose to take advantage to what's been given to us!

  2. Great reminders Miriam!! Hope you are enjoying sunny Hawaii!! That is great you guys got to do the trip all together (even if it might get to be too much togetherness :) ). Small towns can be weird. Though I have to say it was so sweet to get to see all of P's mom's friends and classmates to come visit while we were at the hospice with her. She lived in their small town most of her life, and she had people come to visit that she went to first grade with. It's sweet to see that connection. She had so many visitors. P and I said we would never have that many visitors if it was us :)

  3. "Time is limited. We never know how much time we have left." This is something I constantly remind myself. So well said!

  4. I totally agree with you. I think it's not stupid at all. I think both stories are great and that people should do what makes them happy. It's also scary to think about the fact that we don't know how much time we have left! But it's life.
    Jade x

  5. So true! I try to take the experiences I can while I have them because you just never know. Lovely pictures in this post too!

  6. Thanks Amanda! I took them all on the Big Island of Hawaii, it's so incredibly diverse.
    Listening to the stories, regrets, and triumphs of older people is so interesting. There is so much to learn! My mother-in-law is from a different generation and very old-school, she doesn't share many of my believes about life, and vice versa; but it's very educational to hear her take on things and trying to understand her reasons.

  7. Very true. In that regard we are all the same, everybody has to deal with that.
    I'm in awe of people of an older generation who are so open-minded and adventurous - they are my role models! It must be particularly difficult when everyone around you makes fun of it or tries to discourage you.

  8. Me, too. I read this quote from Buddha that I have never forgotten: "The trouble is, you think you have time." Boom! So true.

  9. That's definitely the good thing about living in a small town, I agree. I'm glad she was surrounded by so much love and support in her final days!
    Hawaii is paradise, I'm having such a good time! It will be sad to go home, but I can't wait to hug my dogs! I miss them way too much, I started dreaming of them at night haha :-)

  10. Very well said!
    How nice that you got to see your grandmother before she passed away. We can learn so much from older people! I love talking to them and listen to their life stories, it's very enlightening.


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