There is a song by James Taylor, that I have loved since I was a kid…..
“The secret of life
Is enjoying the passage of time.
Any fool can do it,
There ain’t nothing to it.”
I love that song. There is a whole lot of wisdom in it. When I was a kid, I remember being able to do that with very little effort, simply enjoy the passage of time. I have beautiful memories of summers off from school and how they felt. We did not usually have camp, or other structured activities during the summer. We would travel to Germany, for three weeks to see my grandparents. Other than that, summers at 71 Indian Hill Road were just endless days of lots and lots of free time.
I would wake up and just lie in my bed for a while, savoring the fact that I did not have to get up right away. There was nowhere that I had to be, nothing that I needed to do. I would get up and go downstairs. Usually, I was the only one up. My Dad would have left for work already. My Mom was always a late riser, along with my little brother. I would have the house to myself for a while. Fix myself a bowl of Trix, or Lucky Charms. Turn on the T.V. and watch reruns of “Sanford and Son.” Eventually, my Mom and my brother would get up, and I would decide what I was going to do for the morning. Maybe read whatever book I was in the middle of- I was always in the middle of at least one book. Maybe I would walk across the street and knock on the McCarthy’s door, or a few houses over to the Fitzgerald’s. Everyone was always home. There was no such thing as a pre-arranged playdate. You just showed up at your friend’s house, and they were happy to see you. Sometimes, my brother would go with me, because his best friend, Michael Fitzgerald, was the little brother of my friend Ann. The day might turn into a marathon day of Barbies (G.I.Joes for the boys), skateboarding, rollerskating,catching frogs and tadpoles in the pond in the woods, or making up goofy dance routines to Shawn Cassidy songs. Whoever’s house we were at- that Mom would eventually feed all of us bologna sandwiches, Fritos and Kool Aid for lunch. After lunch, the play would continue.
Sometimes, I would choose to stay home and hang out on the back deck to catch some rays, after slathering myself with baby oil that had absolutely no sunscreen in it. F105 was always playing on the radio. If I hear Hall and Oates, Billy Joel or Frankie Vallie’s “Oh What a Night,” I am right back there on that deck. Sometimes, I would lie out out on the front lawn, because our backyard was very woodsy and it was hard to get completely fried in the sun back there.
Mostly, I just remember that wonderful savoring of time. There was nowhere to go. There was nowhere to be. The whole summer, blissfully stretching out in front of me with endless promise and possibility. I do not ever remember feeling bored. Eventually, my Dad would come home from work, and there would be dinner. Later, we would all run down to the cul de sac to play Kick the Can and Flashlight Tag until way past dark.
“Now the thing about time
Is that time isn’t really real.
It’s just your point of view,
How does it feel for you?”
I have been thinking about that James Taylor song a lot lately. It has been playing over and over in my head like a loop. I have noticed, since slowing down a month ago, after my graduation, that time seems to speed up or slow down depending on how busy I am. When I am having one of those weeks, where every minute is filled with work, study and ministry, it seems like all of a sudden it is Friday and I am wondering……WHERE DID ALL OF THAT TIME GO??? It feels like it just sped by, and even though some wonderful and special things may have happened; it all happened so fast that I barely had time to notice any of it. It feels like I am just hurtling through life, at the mercy of events and circumstances that are pulling me along by the arm, my Fred Flintstone feet spinning in vain to keep up. I am never able to keep up, always a few steps behind.
When I make space for rest, however, time seems to slow down. When I allow myself that blissful time to slowly savor my morning coffee, pray, and read my morning devotional before I leave the house in the morning. When I allow myself 15 or 20 minutes on my lunch break, to sit by the pond and breathe. When I allow myself time to sit on a Saturday morning and write in my journal, or go for a walk. When I allow myself time to just go home at the end of my work day, eat a relaxed dinner with my husband, and watch the sun go down over the pond behind my house. When I say “yes” to less, even if those offers are offers to do good things…….Something happens. Time slows down. I begin to notice things that I might have overlooked if I were hurrying. I notice that I am much less churned up inside. I notice that my breathing is smooth instead of shallow. I am not constantly thinking about what must happen next. I am more patient. I am kinder and more able to love. Colors look brighter. I am awake and aware all day, and yet I sleep peacefully at night……
“Nobody knows how we got
To the top of the hill.
But since we’re on our way down,
We might as well enjoy the ride.
Isn’t it a lovely ride?
Sliding down, gliding down,
Try not to try too hard,
It’s just a lovely ride. ”
James Taylor was right. It seems I had it all figured out a long time ago, when I was a kid. You know, the more I think about it, I had a lot of stuff figured out a long time ago, when I was a kid. Then it was taken away from me. I can get it back, though. I can get it back.
The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time………..