Twenty-four hours can go so fast.
When I was a wee lad, twenty-four hours seemed an interminable time to wait for anything. Christmas Eve in particular must certainly have been longer than any other day. Each year I thought Christmas Day would never arrive, as I stared at the clock willing the hands to move faster.
Many years later when I was at Air Force Officer Training School near San Antonio, Texas, twenty-four hours never seemed enough time to get done all the things we were expected to do in a day. The result—during that summer, anyway, if not at any time since—was that I had to be hyper-organized and efficient in budgeting my time. The odd flip-side of that was that if I found myself with an unexpected few minutes between scheduled events, it felt like a luxury: ten bonus minutes was a real treat to savor, and seemed to last much longer.
Now, many more years later, I agree whole-heartedly with these lyrics of Betty Comden and Adolph Green. (I’ll post a link to a performance of the song at the end of this post.)
You look around, the day has past.
Do you remember the first weeks and months of quarantine, when you couldn’t tell what day of the week it was? Somebody coined the word “Blursday” to describe the hazy feeling of one nondescript day following another. At some point without my noticing just when—perhaps as restrictions eased and I had to start putting things in my calendar—time has accelerated, at least to its normal, pre-pandemic speed, and at times I suspect it’s moving even faster than in “the before time.”
Many days I’ll just be getting ready to start one project, or continue another one when I suddenly realize it’s time to walk and feed the dogs and start dinner for the humans while watching the evening news. Then it’s Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, and binge-watching whatever, and the evening is gone. Hey, we all need down-time, and have to take care of ourselves! At least I’ve stopped making a strong gin & tonic to sip each day while watching the news and making dinner back in March and April of 2020!
When you’re in love, time is precious stuff.
Not just when you’re in love, but especially then. The quarantine, at least in the early stages, seemed to make time stand still. As it dragged on and lengthened the time we had to spend away from our friends and family, days that had seemed to move so slowly—or at least, unpredictably—began to slip away. We wondered when we would be able to be in the same space with loved ones. Thousands of families were forced to remain separated even as some of their number faced the end of life, without the comforting and sustaining embrace of parents, siblings, spouses, children.
Of course, some who were quarantined together may have begun to long for time apart, but that’s another blogpost.
Even a lifetime isn’t enough.
Near the end of Stephen Sondheim’s & Hugh Wheeler’s A Little Night Music the very old Madame Armfeldt asks her young granddaughter Fredrika for her thoughts on the meaning of life (more or less). “Well. . .I think it must be worth it,” she replies. When asked why, she replies, “It’s all there is, isn’t it?”
Here’s another perspective: “A long life isn’t always good enough, but a good life is always long enough.” I heard those words at the funeral for the young wife of a co-worker, held on Valentine’s Day, of all days, when I was twenty-four years old or so. At the time the words struck me as profound, but at sixty-two I am no longer sure I agree with the sentiment.
It seems to me Fredrika has a keener grasp of the preciousness of life, whatever span we may be granted, and if I may extrapolate, on the need to cherish and make the most of it. We don’t know how much time we’ll be able to share, even with those from whom we might sometimes long to have a break from. (See previous verse.)
A Little Night Music leads me into a related topic: “So many shows (or operas, or audiobooks. . .), so little time.” I have reached an age where I seriously consider what I can still reasonably expect to achieve in my performing career, and what’s reasonable for me to attempt. It so happens that I’ve been involved in three different productions of A Little Night Music, playing four different characters. I would particularly love to portray Fredrik Egerman again, since I was far too young the first time I did, but I also have to think about “bucket-list” roles that I have yet to perform. (That’s a topic for another blogpost.) Of course, what I would like to do and what directors are actually casting are two different things, which may or may not intersect. All one can do is be ready when an opportunity presents itself.
To misquote/paraphrase/concatenate Comden, Green, and Wheeler: “A lifetime isn’t enough, but it’s all there is.”
Where has the time all gone to?
Since retiring from my Federal Civil Service job in 2016 (wait–what?) I have frequently wondered how I ever managed to work 40 hours a week and still find time to cook, clean house, do laundry, walk and tend to dogs, have a social life, and sleep. During many of those years of full-time employment I also had a regular church job and performed with various opera companies and theater groups. True, I did get along with considerably fewer than 8 hours of sleep a night, and my housecleaning would never have met my mother’s standards, but still.
The quarantine forced us to change a few plans, and one result has been my realizing the need to more carefully budget/plan my time. Stay tuned for a report on how that goes in the new year!
And in the spirit of full-disclosure, I have to admit I planned to post this on my birthday, November 16. It was probably 95% written and then. . .
Haven’t done half the things we want to.
Indeed. (And yes, there’s some overlap in the sentiments of these verses.) Perhaps it is better to have further plans in the works, rather than to feel you’ve done everything you wanted to. I have never actually made a bucket list, but were I to do so, I am sure it would be constantly under revision. I have long since long interest in some things I planned or hoped for when in my twenties, mostly without regrets. Similarly, I have achieved some things I had never even considered possible way back when I was an undergraduate.
Oh well. We’ll catch up some other time.
I wonder. The important thing is to keep trying; if I’ve learned anything it’s that there might not always be some other time available. Not trying to be morbid, just realistic.
This day was just a token.
Those tokens definitely have an expiration date, unknown though it may be.
Too many words are still unspoken.
Don’t wait; speak those words when they come to mind, unless they will hurt someone’s feelings.
Just when the fun is starting, comes the time for parting.
Maybe. But “parting is such sweet sorrow,” to quote the Bard. (Okay, this one is cheesy—but I have to finish this song!)
But let’s be glad for what we’ve had and what’s to come.
The end of the year is a good time not only for making resolutions but for reviewing the year just ended. We tend to focus on resolutions we didn’t keep rather than giving ourselves credit for what we actually accomplished. Here’s a blogpost that goes into more detail about that.
There’s so much more embracing still to be done, but time is racing.
Don’t leave the words unspoken, the tokens unredeemed, or the loved ones unembraced!
I want to wish each and every one of you a happy, love-filled New Year!
And now, I’ll let Leonard Bernstein and Eileen Farrell have the last word as they bring Comden and Green’s lyrics to life.
Oh well. We’ll catch up some other time.