“I am determined to have a different ending to my story”Written by Bonnie Black and found by police during her murder investigation
My neighbor, Bonnie, was stabbed in April 2015. Her husband was convicted of his estranged wife’s murder and sentenced to two life terms. The judicial system is clear–take a person’s life and it takes yours. With a prison sentence, the jury and judge serve justice by curtailing the life and freedom of someone convicted of a crime. The state understands the value of time and autonomy.
Mostly we forget that we are all serving life sentences. At birth, a countdown timer starts, which ends with death. We don’t know how long or healthy our lives will be, but each day moves us closer to the end. Many ignore this until a close call or scary diagnosis grabs attention and forces a reckoning and realization of life’s brevity.
Ben Franklin claimed: “Time is money.” I disagree. The basic unit of time is not money, but seconds, minutes and hours. Time is a measure of life energy. We may exchange time for money, which makes time a form of currency. It’s transactional: We trade life energy for a paycheck, which in turn we trade for a roof over our heads, a gallon of gas, or a cup of coffee. We may pay someone so they use their time on our behalf, like when you hire a cleaning service. Life energy sustains life.
The criminal justice system has multiple words for theft: burglary, shoplifting, pickpocketing, larceny, embezzlement, etc. However, there are no laws prohibiting time theft, even though unlike property, time is irreplaceable. The vocabulary is sparse and inaccurate. We might use sloppy phrasing, like save, kill, or waste time, but the clock inexorably ticks on whether we use our time efficiently on things that matter, or we spend it on distracting non-entities.
Unfortunately, many people approach time with the same casualness that the government treats money—there’s always more to spend. During my years in school, no one taught the math of life—the fact that time is a treasure not a commodity. While your time account refills automatically each night, you can’t buy more on Amazon. Life’s warranty will expire. When something bad happens, there is no pause or rewind button. We may hope our lives are lucid and long, but there are no guarantees. We call the end of our time death, an event which medical science tries to postpone. Ultimately no one is saved /survives.
We often don’t appreciate our time until it seems like it’s running out, whether in the short-term like arriving late for a flight or when a doctor informs us that we are on final approach. We are eternal beings having a temporal experience. How we spend our time is how we live our lives. Being alive is not just having vital signs but being vital. Remembering that we die reminds to live more fully. Because you never know…
Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.Psalm 90:12
- Writing prompt:
- Review the year that just ended. Reflect on how things went.
- How did last year’s visions translate into achievements?
- What didn’t go the way you expected?
- What did you learn?
- Hint: You may have already listed some of these in a holiday greeting.
© Joan S Grey, 16 JAN 19
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