The following is an excerpt from a speech I wrote when I was member of a local Toastmasters group a couple years ago. It was an introductory "getting to know me" type speech in which I used my thoughts on the concept of time and how we measure it to introduce myself to the group. This portion shows a bit about my thoughts on how the accident affected us and our life.
We all have 24 hours in the day, 1,440 minutes. 4-6 minutes of time seems like not much in the grand scheme of things. Me, personally, it seems that I have an ongoing battle with time.
Here I am at 6:45 in the morning, rushing to leave the house to get here on time. 6:45 is my drop dead time, in the car, coat on, cell phone and purse backing out....but 6 am or pm, it is always the same scenario...damp hair, rushing around, shoes and keys needing to be located. It seems I am always rushing to be on time!!
I leave everything to the last minute, I am always hurrying to get here or there, I worry about being late, hate being early, because it is a waste of time. When you think of it, why is there such importance on something so really intangible? You can't see time, so how do we know it is there?
On the broad scale of time, I seem to get off easy. One of the most common ways people seem to measure time is by their children's ages. Because I do not have children, just 2 cats, I don't have that "mark" that requires me to admit my real age. Some friends and family members my age actually have not only grown children but grandchildren. I suppose I could, too, had I gotten married at 18, stayed home and had babies like everyone else in the small KY town where I grew up. I chose to leave home, go to the "big city" Nashville, TN, attend college, study business management, and go to work to support myself.
Another way we measure time is by use of that time, how much we get done. At age 18 I was living on a college campus, working trying to pay my tuition without any assistance from my family. Every moment of my day was scheduled. I had retail jobs, nanny jobs, catering jobs, classes, bible study and church. And there never was enough time to study and do research, homework, everything that was required.
By age 22 I had my first real job, full time. I kept books for a company that owned a restaurant and nightclub. I worked my day job and 3 part-time jobs to pay bills. Until the age of 24 I literally left my apartment at 7am and most days didn't get home until 10pm. Looking back I don't know when I had time to sleep. But I made connections and developed a work ethic that would cause me to succeed later in life.
By the age of 29 I had moved up the ladder into a the corporate position I had longed for. My job required long hours and a lot of travel. My days were full of project schedules, deadlines, airport schedules and a dayplanner was by now a regular part of my life, a necessary evil. I had no choice but to be on time.
We also measure by significant events. 27 years since I started driving, 26 years since graduating high school, 17 happy years of marriage. My biggest significant event was that in July 2000 my husband was flying in a small-engine aircraft that crashed upon takeoff. He was trapped inside the burning plane for almost 10 minutes before being rescued. Time as I knew it would come to an end that day.
When the accident happened I took a leave of absence from my job and sank into the ultimate time vacuum. The hospital waiting room. A place where every second counts, but time does not matter. There are no schedules, no appointments, no rules when you are in a hospital. Time, clocks, the calendar, days of the week are all indistinguishable when you are waiting for someone to wake up. I remember leaving the hospital for lunch one day with a friend and I remember looking around, and being amazed that life was still going on. Time still was moving on as quickly as ever.
Since this occurrence, I found it impossible to go back to the corporate culture I had been in before. Several years ago I decided to begin an entirely new career which would give me something I would actually enjoy doing, working with people, along with flexibility with my work hours, and not tie me to a desk 40 hours a week. From that career I gained the confidence I needed to return to school and complete a degree in graphic design, allowing me to pursue a career path I had been long wishing to follow.
Something like that can really change the way you look at time. My husband fought hard to get more time on this earth. I realized how precious time really is....time with your loved one, time with family, time spent on doing the important things, and things that make you happy.
Every moment is a precious commodity, completely non-renewable. And yet, with the dawn of each new day, every one of us once again has the same amount of time for that day, 24 hours. 1,440 minutes.
Today and every day, I hope you appreciate each and every moment of time you have in this world. Don't ever squander your time on things that don't matter, people who don't care, or projects that aren't important. Love those in your life but above all, love yourself.