Tag Archives: Time

Time To Kill

Remember when having four hours to kill was just another glorious afternoon in an endless string of afternoons filled with thought, daydreams, and pursuit of either?

Two sides of Time

I hear it a lot, everywhere, in fact. “Time flies.” “Where has the time gone?” “There’s just not enough hours in the day.” So on, and so forth. And, for the most part I agree, time marches on. Sometimes it seems to move faster than it does at other periods of our lives. So, the one side of time, is the fleeting glimpse of the persons, pieces, and moments that occupied the space formerly known as the present.

Then, there’s the other side of time, spending it. Spending time. As you all probably know by now, I’m not the smartest person in any room I enter. Even so, a couple of times over my working years I have made decisions that were risky, puzzling maybe, and certainly not in line with societal worker bee mentality. Some were clear cut choices, some more out of necessity, and still others based on needs greater than my own. Honestly, though, one underlying theme over these years has been the decision on how my time was going to be spent. Numerous times I’ve chosen to spend time instead of spending money, or even spending more time in making money.

Here’s how I see this other side of time. Dollars are made, dollars are spent. In the end, my dollars end up in someone else’s register drawer or another’s wallet. Either way, I’ll look back at the pictures, or hear the stories, even bask in the memories, and I’ll ask “Where did the time go?” The difference is that the investment of time, time spent with those who matter the most, is not only priceless, but the experience I completely own is also, forever weaved directly into the fabric of time that has elapsed throughout a lifetime.

I can always make another dollar or two, but never again can I recreate time that has passed. So while memory fades, or certainly gets cluttered by the pace of information we daily process, I’ll try to be present now, investing in the memories that are yet to come.

6 words

Need less.
Dote more.
Love time.

Delight to show mercy

In recent weeks I have been thinking an awful lot about the end of days, whether they are mine, or anyone else’s. Not in a morbid sense, but in more of a reality sense. More of a thought process revolving around the thoughts, dreams, and wishes of someone, anyone, who might be living through the end of their days. Then, mentally I dig a little deeper, and expand the thought process to include people who might be close, or at least were once close, to the person now towards the end of their time here on earth. I think about life, and all it may have held for anyone, or maybe each of these individuals. I think about fun, laughter, and the best of times. The times that any of these people would escape to, right then and there, were they afforded that opportunity. Conversely, I think also about forgiveness. I think about those free passes (forgiveness) we possess and carry with us every day, and why sometimes we freely give of them, and other times why we hold to them on so tightly. As if, perhaps, we are above the act of forgiveness, or because who would be forgiven, or even due to the act that we deem unforgivable.

We may think that not everyone deserves a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card in life, but there are more that do deserve one (or more) than those who don’t. Primarily, you and I are the ones who decide who gets this free pass and then also, who doesn’t get one. Seriously though, who are we to forgive or not to forgive? Shouldn’t we also remember that we too, many times throughout life come, head-bowed, in the presence of someone we wish to be forgiven by?

Imagine this. There’s comes a time in your life when circumstances you cannot control consume your mind and your daily thought process more than they should. Maybe decisions are made that are not normally decisions you would make, but in doing so, you have further complicated things. Things that could, should, and otherwise would be simple, but not right then, because attention is paid elsewhere and the simple is forgotten, temporarily foreign. Then news of matters you knew were on the horizon are now staring you in the face, and decisions are necessary, furthermore, action is overdue. You long to escape all of it or at least the unpleasant, so as to concentrate on the things you’d rather focus on. Life doesn’t work that way, and mounting pressure pushes you further from the normalcy you may have known through times in your life. Suddenly devastating news, or something near and dear to you, presents itself in the form of a problem or a situation you wouldn’t wish on anyone. All of this is added to the 24-hour schedule you already were struggling to keep up with. Ugh!!!!!! Then there’s more heaped on because it can be heaped on. And so on. Any balance seems lost and, at best, you keep your head above water.

Next, interactions with people take on a different tone. Words are said, maybe not meant, but certainly slip through the filter, and are out there to be discussed, felt, and otherwise held against you. Priorities shift, and the left is separated from the right. Not much seems to fit together anymore. Continuity is slowly replaced with uneasiness. Calm found in a moment, held so sacred now, is replaced with despair. Darkness is welcomed as the sense of who can see, and how you’re seen, dissipates with the fall of night. A temporary respite from the day-to-day life that you’ll get through, but that outcome seems more like a guess than a certainty on any given night. Time seems to disappear at least in the sense of measurement of it, as reactionary mode will often do. Deadlines are chosen, meaning some are met and others are treated as if they were gentle reminders or suggestions. These come around again and usually get more serious in nature with each passing round. Indifference sets its hold now, and that changes everything. Relationships suffer all around you, because there are too many layers between caring and just making it through the next few hours without disrupting the regiment of simply breathing.

The end of the day is welcomed whether it is mid-afternoon or the middle of the night. Quiet is sought after but soon turns its back on you as your mind retrieves the images of what you think, assume, or maybe even know is happening around you. This too, becomes just a mere suggestion, from you to yourself, and you carry on in spite of the warnings from the inner you. Days, have since run right through weeks, and now mount as months turning into years. The cocoon from which you operate your daily life feels like its closer to the big picture, any normal life you used to know, but it’s really just a fraction of the space that once felt so open, free, and uninhibited to function in. For now, you don’t notice the difference, or maybe you sense it, but deny it like the suggestions you’ve given yourself up to now. At some point you ask yourself:

What was I thinking, when this bed I did make?

Missing now, how many years did this take?

Time passes, life marches on. Maybe differences have been reconciled, maybe they have not. Relationships strained, perhaps mended again, but maybe left unattended still. Each of us on our own path and your paths don’t cross with the same groups anymore, as a result of the route you chose to take. But, also there’s the path(s) that those around you chose to take as a result of your impact on them. So the circles that once gathered together as one, maybe now gather in spite of you, the one.

All the while, over this time elapsed, so long, others all carried those free passes, the get-out-of-jail-free card known as forgiveness, recognized as mercy. Passes saved for you were held, other passes were given freely in areas that didn’t sting the affected so much. Like a sliver of water that finds its way into the crevices of solid rock, it gets cold and freezes, splitting this formidable bond wide open, your allegiances are diminished.

Finally, or at least close to it, the end of days for you has come. Whether it’s the number of years you’ve been here on earth and the time is short, or if it’s sickness, suffering, illness, disease, or self-inflicted health restrictions, either way, it’s almost your time. There you sit, lay, wait, otherwise pass time until time is no more. In those moments when the mind is clear, your brain is free of clutter, and measurement of time once again seems not to matter, you wish to cling to the memories worth pulling from the past. You long for a circle in your place of rest, a circle of those you love, those who have loved you, and for those who are now estranged. You wish, to each you could extend a hand, asking for them to give freely of the passes they hold, one by one. Maybe they come, maybe they don’t. And like the inevitable dawn of the next morning, it hits you like a wave of first morning light, and doesn’t stop, that the people and situations you callously disregarded in the spin that was your time of despair are the ones you want near you before you leave this world. And you wait, you wish, and you wonder how it is that this you, the same you all the years through, could have been that person who pushed people away, or even ran from the direction they gathered in. You beg for forgiveness and wonder if you ever asked for it while life’s time was elapsing.

So, I ask the question: Why didn’t we do anything about this before there was a time limit applied to the action?

For all of you, all of us, you and me, we hold the keys. While forgiveness does not excuse the transgressor, nor does it validate the erroneous action taken, it is the right thing to do. In essence, the lack of forgiveness, the lack of showing mercy, is wrong in its own right. Matthew 6:14-15

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

That person, the person counting down the days and waiting, is thinking about you, and yes, you from time to time, maybe more often, allow your mind and your thoughts to wander in that person’s way. Maybe it’s Mom, maybe it’s Dad, an uncle or aunt, long time friend, brother, sister, or whatever, it’s someone that at one time held your interest above most others. Until now, you’ve not forgiven them for whatever that wedge which came between you is. Or if you have, you haven’t let them in on your secret as of yet. Then you must realize that you are no more perfect than the one reeling from not being forgiven. You must be aware that in your own moments, long or short, that you have struggled with many of the things listed above. And yes, maybe you handled them better than the one you won’t forgive, but you are no more human, no better created, or in any other way a superior being. You are you. He or is she is who they are; period. And within each of us, we maintain the capacity to forgive, to accept another, or to be supportive, loving, and caring. So, why hold on? Is that something you want to take inventory of at the end of your days? I love how this passage talks of this idea of forgiveness:  Micah 7:18-19

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.  You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

“Delight to show mercy.” If only we were all that good.

I started this piece in my mind months ago. I started applying words to a document a week ago. Now, I close this piece after writing, re-writing, adding, subtracting, and changing the order of these paragraphs, only to put them back in the order that I originally conceived them, in order to deliver a message. The message is more or less this, none of us are perfect, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves and think we have this figured out better than another. Tomorrow is not promised, and neither are the things we may have to encounter. Therefore we are all, at some level, susceptible to the chaos, lack of balance, and poor decision-making described earlier. We do control more than we know sometimes, and being the voice that sets another free, or the listening observer, the calm at the side of the bed, the partner in prayer, or the touch that calms an otherwise restless soul, may be in among the passes we hold. So, pray, understand, change your perspective, and “delight to show mercy.” Something tells me you will be glad you did.

This piece is very much inspired by events in my own life from long ago and right through until now. Learning is ongoing. Sharing is my treat, as well as my refuge. I hope you made it through this with me. Thank you for stopping by and sharing a few minutes with me.

 

Thanks #23 (Thanksgiving)

I am thankful for Thanksgiving. I am thankful for the day of visiting with family yesterday. We had a tremendous meal and fun family time on both Wednesday and Thursday. I’m glad we are able to take the time to get together.

Another season ends

Another season ends. Over the weekend my eleven year old sons’ hockey season ended. Hockey started with off ice training back on August 1st, 2011. That’s 222 days of hockey season according to my calculations. That’s almost 61% of a complete year devoted to one team, to one sport, to ones self being the best they can be for themselves and for their team. That’s somewhere between 110 – 150 trips to a rink somewhere, I just didn’t feel like going back to count all the workouts, practices, and games.

As I sat down to write this, I started with a title, which I usually save for the end or sometime throughout the journey my mind takes me through. As soon as I wrote the words, my mind, which connects dots that aren’t visible at times, thought of the ELO song, Another Heart BreaksFitting in a way, I guess. Maybe my mind is on to something. So I have listened to that song a couple of times now while writing. If you like ELO at all, the album, Time, on which the song is found, is pretty good.

Anyways the hockey season ended for my sons Pee Wee team. They played 56 games during the season, winning 27, losing 27, and tying 2. I am proud of his effort. He worked hard to improve. He observed often and learned to be a better teammate on the ice. He did improve. He led the team in assists. He played team hockey, and he is better for it. But, this post isn’t about my son, it’s about a season, about a team.

I am thankful to my wife who, at the sacrifice of her own viewing pleasure, spent many cold hours in rinks all over the northeast, watching our twins while I kept stats, comments, and scores of games all season. See, I had the pleasure of following this team closely all season. I enjoy statistics and measurements, but I also like what my eyes, heart, and mind tell me outside of numbers. I really was the fortunate one. I tracked this team, wrote the articles recapping the games, tournaments, month summaries, and input the scores and scheduled games on the website. I had help from a friend here in town who posted many pieces and updates to the town website he runs. Those who know me, know that I have been known to utter the words, “It’s all about the kids”, on more occasions than I could count. That’s the reason I spent the hours this season with my spreadsheet, my little note pad, taking home the game sheets, and plugging everything in to any computer I could log in to. The kids.

I remember as a boy certain folks who would ask me at church on Sundays, how my baseball season was going, or how the State Tournament went, or where did you play this week, etc. I know that unless you knew my family, were at the games, or knew someone else on the teams I played for, then nobody knew that we were even playing anything. Nobody knew we were playing, much less winning, succeeding, growing as teens and teammates. Don’t get me wrong, I had some awesome coaches and devoted parents around me too, but it clearly wasn’t all about the kids as much as it is today. I say that with caution because there’s a lot of people who don’t get it even today. They run around with their heads’ cut off as if their life depended on it, almost as if their son or daughter is an after thought. Kids still need time and space to be kids. I am waiting for the day when an adult no longer says they wish they could be a kid again. They’ll grow up on their own time, just like you and I did.

So, this season was long, it was hectic at times, maybe even grueling here and there. But I would do it again. I love hockey. I love kids who play hockey. I enjoy the family camaraderie that materializes over the hours spent huddled together on a bench, rink-side in sub-forty degree temperatures. The odd ice times, travel schedules, and time it takes to gear up and gear down to play this sport, is all part of it. There are more sleep-overs, come play at my house times, and team lunches than there is in other sports. It’s also pretty cool that most hockey programs pull from more than one town, meaning that these players will play against each other in high school, and so on. It’s another plus for hockey and for the individuals it produces when the hockey gods whisper softly in the players ear letting them know their time playing hockey competitively is done.

Like any season there were ups and downs. There were injuries. There were tough losses. There were exhilarating wins. There was team bonding. There were hours and hours spent in vehicles coming to and from rinks. I know if I were to assess my own performance in the vehicle demeanor with my son, I would have maybe snagged a C for a grade. Kind of like when I was back in school. He would probably be harder on me. Which is the same issue I faced, being too hard at times, I am sure. I am largely in favor of kids being kids and I know I will be better at it next year than I was this year. Like him, I want to improve.

Our team was a mixed team this year, so we had players who were second year Pee Wees playing with first year Pee Wees. Thankfully we were able to get enough kids to have a team by combining the Pee Wees for this team. This also means that as tryouts for the 2012-2013 teams continue as we speak, half our team from this season will be moving up to the Bantam level next season. So, next season we will be spending these many hours with some different parents, and the kids playing alongside some different kids. Good for hockey.

A word (or several) about tryouts. Hockey does tryouts at the end of the season. The teams are selected and then 5 months later you show up and play with your team you made in March. It’s not that simple, thanks to the adults involved, but hopefully you get the idea. Anyways, in my sons particular case this past week, he had tryouts for the next season a couple of days before playing in this season’s State Tournament for his tier. Our team lost in the tournament so the season ended on Saturday afternoon. Tryouts for next season concluded today. Given the timeliness, or lack there of, regarding tryouts as it relates to the current season, I can see how it can be hard to distance one from the other.

I have coached some basketball over the years, and coached a lot of baseball with various age groups from age 9 thru 19. I have evaluated players at tryouts several times. The point is this. The coach in me is happy to know the things I know about the existing player in the existing season, or even previous seasons. I like knowing the makeup of the player, the compete level, the player they are when the game is on the line, the work ethic, the temperament, their athleticism, etc. It’s a plus to know these things. But, if I am coaching this team and looking at the players trying out, I am not looking at the sheet of ice through my rear-view mirror, I am looking forward to the team I see next season. I am looking, not at the player who scored a key goal this past November, but at what that player can give the team next March in the tournament, and the distance required to bridge the gap from now until the moment we need that player to be the best player possible in that position. See, to me, it’s fresh. It’s new. A clean slate. Everything to this point matters; only as it relates to what I can put together in the vision I see looking forward, made up of the players in front of me now. That’s part of the joy in it. It’s not about power or control, agenda or familiarity. It’s about what’s next, it’s about how do we best equip ourselves to get there, and who is coming with us. I would ask that my son be evaluated not by whom he knows, whom he is friends with, how good or bad a season he had, but how does he look today? How does he project? I tried out for teams I didn’t make. I worked harder because I wanted to show myself, and certainly that coach, that I was good enough. I’d show him. One of my older sons was cut from baseball teams a couple of times in Little League and from a school team. I remember talking to him on those days and hearing the resolve in his young voice to work at being better and proving those coaches wrong. Well he did get better. He pitched, and won the State Championship Legion Baseball game in 2010. He had a tremendous career on the field, and he’s an even better person. I’d like to think that some of those obstacles he overcame helped him be the young man he is today, as much as his effort to improve on the field helped him to an outstanding run as a player in high school, in Legion ball, and on several all-star teams.

And I am back. Okay, so this season was long. It was wonderful. It was downright frustrating. It was so much fun at times that joy was hard to contain. It was gut wrenching to watch my child along side his teammates as they poured their hearts into their games and fell short. At least on the scoreboard they did. Sometimes you can look in the mirror and know you left it all on the field of competition, but still came up short in the final score. That’s okay.

Our season really took off in January when the team played 17 games in 31 days. It was crazy. It was so much fun. The players responded. They played better the more they played. Then it was into February, a slower paced schedule, but the importance of wins and losses taking a new meaning as teams jostle for positions in the standings. When all was said and done, we made the tournament. We didn’t win it, but we made it, and we played well in the tournament. Sometimes there are just better teams playing better than your best on any given day. So as I sat on my bleacher seat Saturday afternoon, after the teams had left the ice, and many of the parents had started for the exit, I thought, just like that, another season ends.

I personally would like to thank the coaches who not only have to get their kids to games and practices, but have to be with the team before, during, and after each event. We get to sip our hot coffee, while laughing with friends, as we watch the games and enjoy the strength that exists among a group of people who want and hope for the same things. The coaches are on the bench dealing with the game, the players, the lineups, the ebb and flow of each minute, and the differences that exist from one player to the next. Thank you.

I would also like to thank the parents from our team this season. So many were willing and able to help us and others. Rides to and from rinks were always available. An extra set of eyes on a wandering twin were much appreciated. The commitment to get our kids to where they needed to be in order to be the teammate they aspire to be, is not one to be overlooked. Thank you to our devoted team mom who did an outstanding job keeping us all on track with information and changing schedules. Thanks also to our team mom for getting to the rinks so early and grabbing the best parking spots. Truthfully, it was comforting to know that the long trip to some tucked away rink paid off when I pulled in and saw her vehicle there.

Finally, as I usually do in other season pieces I have written in the past, thank you to the players. Thank you for smiling no matter the result of the game. Thank you for the boundless energy that somehow intensifies when a day of hockey is done and your free to enjoy your teammates and friends. Thank you for asking every time if a friend can come over, or if you can go home with a friend, or if we can all go eat together, even if the answer was often “no”. You wouldn’t be a kid otherwise. Thank you for playing as hard as you could on any given day. I know there’s school, there are projects, there’s family, there’s only 24 hours today, there are body parts that hurt, or sickness you are fighting, there are times you feel like nothing is going your way, there are times you might even be intimidated, and so the list goes. All things considered, thank you for showing up to play. Thank you for celebrating your successes and for feeling your losses. Thank you for being kids playing a team sport. Because even though you might hear the voice you wish you could avoid for at least that hour you’re on the ice, you still play, you still compete. Meanwhile, sitting on a cold bleacher seat rink-side there’s us parents who in some corner of our minds wish we were in your position. Thank you for your commitment to play this sport, as a team, for such a long season. It’s our pleasure to be there in the moments we are fortunate enough to see our youngsters become young men and women.

As I fold my last game sheet so I can return it to our team mom, I close my little note pad, and don’t care what happens to the pen I have in my possession, another season ends.