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On Sunday I attended the funeral service of a woman who'd taught for almost 40 years in our local district. In the twelve years since Ruth had retired, she'd been actively involved in education-related sororities, choirs, church ministries, and volunteer work in the community. Her sudden death at age 74 stunned her family and friends. The church was packed; well over 400 people showed up to say their farewells and share stories of how she touched their lives.
I'm not quite sure how I'm supposed to weave these two events into my personal fabric. One event encouraged the following of dreams; the other celebrated the legacy of a life that gifted others. One causes me to wonder what I want to accomplish over the next 20 years; the other has me wondering what I've done so far that has blessed people whose paths have crossed mine.
One common denominator seems to be using one's time well. I often do not. I can fritter away hours just thinking about what I'd like to do with a chunk of "free" time. While thinking about it I may play computer solitaire, read a magazine, take a nap... In the end I'm usually scrambling to complete the must-dos that have deadlines, and I've run out of time to do the things I would have liked to do.
One would think after decades of repeating this pattern, I would be tired of my behavior enough to change it. Well, I am tired of it. And I do think about changing my ways. I read lots of inspirational articles about women who set goals to lose weight, run marathons, change career paths, et cetera. I mentally applaud their self-discipline and commitment, and take note of the steps they went through to change their lives. I read books on organization and efficiency; I attend motivational events (like the conference.) I analyze the habits of friends who have qualities I admire: women who don't accumulate personal clutter, who always seem to be there for others who need help or consolation, who get grading done first instead of at the last minute, who volunteer in the community, or who are persistent in keeping up their daily practices of exercise or journaling. Then I play more solitaire or take a nap.
I may just add "using time well" to my list of things I'd like to do.