I am not old but not so young anymore either. In my twenties I thought that I had all the time in the world to be self-indulgent. If I didn’t get to something, I would shrug it off and add that to the bucket list for next year. Next year I will take that literature course. Next year I will revive my long-dormant French. Next year I will make the commitment to Ashtanga yoga.
After all, I am only 27 . . . 28. . . 29 . . .
And then 30 came along followed much too quickly by 31 and 32.
“There’s a minute of our lives that we are never going to get back!” My 4th grade teacher would say this every time the class would act out and interrupt her lesson. She would stand in the middle of the room, back ramrod straight, and stare at us until we’d grow silent and still. We must have heard this sentiment often repeated over the ten months we were under her charge because the words still whisper in my mind at the end of each day.
I don’t remember much about the complexities of the medieval feudal system but hearing “there’s a minutes of our lives that we are never going to get back” at nine years old proved to be very formative to my later years.
List making became an obsession. I have lists for everything, and lists of my lists. I check off my list at the end of each day, month, and year. I feel accomplished every time I draw a thick black line across an ink scrawl or mar the whiteness of the paper with a bright red checkmark. In these digital times holding down the delete button gives me a perverse sense of pleasure.
I didn’t waste it! I didn’t waste a minute!
John Belushi, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, Eva Peron and Jesus are just a few notables who died at 33.
I am 33.
I haven’t created capricious characters that entertain and delight. I have yet to inspire a generation of women with my graceful style or galvanize a country as First Lady. I do have three disciples though, and they follow me from kitchen to bathroom and back. But I am content with just three.
Their experiences humble my paltry list of to-dos and have secured them a place in the history books but my fourth grade teacher was wrong. Thirty-three years is fleeting! Listening to friends laugh, mindlessly watching TV, shutting out the world in favour of a good book, eating popcorn for dinner . . . none of that is a waste of time. It’s true that those minutes are gone forever, but they remain precious all the same.
Sometimes you’ve got to screw the to-do list!