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Slow down and savor your days

Published December 31. 2016 09:02AM

Ready or not, here comes another new year.

Every time I flip the calendar to another month, I feel like time is passing all too fast.

So of course I wasn’t ready to throw out the 2016 calendar. That simple act signifies another year has passed as time relentlessly marches on.

The older we get, the faster time flies. While science tells us the passage of time is the same for everyone, those of us who qualify for AARP membership know that isn’t true.

And for us retired folks, time passes far faster than it did when we were working.

Back then, when we were still consumed with our jobs, we all thought that once we retired we would have “all the time in the world” stretched out before us. We envisioned long, perfect days of doing what we want.

Well, retirement did indeed give us perfect days to use as we please. But forget the “long days” part. Most retirees will tell you that’s a myth. Our days seem to be getting shorter, not longer.

Wasn’t it only a few months ago that we had to remember to write 2016 on our checks instead of the previous year?

I tried living in denial that 2017 was around the corner. It’s easier to do that while living here in the land of perpetual sunshine.

But not paying attention to the calendar had its consequences for me when I ended up looking like I was more than a bit daffy. I’m sure some of my fellow shell club members think I’ve been hit with Alzheimer’s.

When I saw photos on our shell club’s Facebook page of an interesting looking craft class, I wondered why no one told me we were holding classes in the summertime.

Then a story about the first club meeting of the year jolted me into realizing we are in the midst of a new club year. Only in my mind is it still summer, as I first insisted.

In my defense, I tell people that as long as I can swim in my pool, I think it’s summer. I didn’t have my last goodbye swim of the season until Oct. 20.

Then, and only then, would I acknowledge what season the rest of the world was in.

I’ve learned that the only way to cope with change is to welcome it. So in that spirit, I will welcome the new year, acknowledging that while time is passing, seeing the start of another year is a gift.

Each new day, as well as each new year, is a gift — a gift we should hold dear.

As we get older we realize more and more the importance of not squandering a single day.

You can afford to do that when you’re young. You can afford to take for granted you will be have years to reach your goals and years to improve your own little world.

When you’re young, you can squander a day by living through that day with a mind filled with your present anxieties.

We all have anxieties at every age. But when we get older I think we do a better job of not letting them consume us.

We replace some of that anxiety with a thankfulness for each day of life.

Most of all, when we get older, we realize the importance of making every single day count.

When we get to a certain age, we stop yearning for material things. Instead, we start yearning for more meaning, not more things.

If we are the introspective type, and I certainly am, we think about how we are living our days.

When I get up in the morning, I realize that while I may not know how many more days I will be given, I do know that I have the present day — and I want to make it count.

I don’t want to waste a day by being mindless to the joys of a simple day. Nor do I want to waste it with negative feelings.

There are plenty of ways we can waste a day. We can fail to heal a rift that may separate us from family.

We can fail to take the first step, thinking someone else should do it. Or thinking you have plenty of time.

We can waste a day by harboring a grudge and holding it close to our chest as if we were holding onto something precious instead of something destructive.

This week, in talking to someone decades younger than I am, she talked about being filled with hate for someone. I told her hatred harms the one who holds it, not the one who is hated.

I don’t think she believed me. Perhaps it isn’t until you’re older that you realize some basic truths.

There are a few things that the passage of time has taught me:

Don’t give any toxic person free rent in your head.

If you can pass on anything, pass on a legacy of love.

At the end of life, it’s not important how much you have accumulated. It’s important how much you have loved.

The start of a new year is like a waving flag that says: Do it now. Do it while you can.

Slow down and savor your days.

That’s the only way you can control the passage of time.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at newsgirl@comcast.net.

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