Tuesday, May 10, 2022

A Dwindling Of Hours

 Last month I had a birthday - not one of the Big Birthdays ending in a "0", but one of the intermediate ones.  Significant enough that for some reason, I have been in a funk ever since.

It is not like anything has changed, of course.  Just because the day advanced and thus the year, it is not as if everything  has completely end.  My body did not magically fall apart.  My skill set seems to be as useful as it ever was.

And yet, inside of me, it feels as if something has changed.

Part of it, I suspect, is the hard realization we all come to when not only are we heading downhill, but we are picking up speed.  And yes, while in theory life could end at the end of the post (hopefully not; I still have other things to do), the statistical and historical gene pool suggest I have 25 or 30 more years, if I am lucky.  

If you look at it, it is not really a lot of time.

But even that does not seem to be the real issue.  What seems to be nagging at my soul is if I have spent - and will spend - my life in the correct way.

The past is gone, of course, and whatever has happened there has happened.  That time, energy, resources, etc. can never be recaptured.  But in the relatively dwindling future - somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 hours not inclusive of leap years of course, which might get me another 200 hours or so - I still have choices and options.  Am I making the most of those?

It becomes like doing an inventory of your house, except with your interests and your time:  What do I have in this closet or drawer?  What am I doing with it?  Why did I buy it in the first place?  Do I really need to keep it?  Will I use it again?

We always have a predisposed bias towards that which we have invested in, the "sunk cost".  Sometimes the sunk cost can have involve years of our lives and thousands of hours (let alone money).  Knowing what we know now, do we still continue to invest in them?  And what about those things that we have clung to for years and years, ways we have defined ourselves - "I am a writer, I am an athlete, I am a <fill in the blank>" - yet we never seem to make much progress.  Does there come point where our ability to progress is obvious to everyone but ourselves?

As usual, I do not really have answers to any of this - although to be frank with you, looking at that amount of hours left is shocking to me.  All I do know is that pretend or not, life continues to move on (and dwindle, in this case) and too often we feel we have all the time in the world.

23 comments:

  1. Anonymous4:59 AM

    I'm getting close to one of the birthdays ending in zero and understand your thought. Coming to realization I have maybe 15 years of active outdoor activities before I REALLY feel those aches and pains of working in a pasture (already feel those but am able to recover fairly quickly). Net getting old - got old.

    I notice I don't look forward to the end of the work week as much. Time flies so fast now, the weekend feels like a matter of half a day or so. Then its Sunday night and Monday is tomorrow again. So Friday night is like very nearly Monday morning again.

    Sorry if that sounds disjointed, I hope I got across my thoughts.

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    1. That is part of the realization: that the time one has to do some things is passing rapidly. I have tried to take good care of myself, but even with that there is only a finite limit to what the body can do.

      And the other part - the work week. You are correct that the weekends fly by. What I also find is more and more I am begrudging the amount of time I spend a work compared to the total time I have. And the "importance" of things at work becomes less and less too. I am finding I have stressed over due dates for things that have no importance far too often.

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    2. Anonymous3:37 AM

      One of my coworkers in regards to deadlines told me "I don't worry about them until I notice our bosses worry about them. Just wait to worry. Do the job as best you can and let the future take care of itself - it always does"

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    3. I would argue that is one of the things that maturity brings at work - the ability to learn "when" something is truly important and when it is just chatter or people needing to worry about something.

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  2. Nylon125:06 AM

    More time spent contemplating my navel means less time spent living eh? Every day I wake up is a bonus TB, gives me the chance to help someone. Birthdays were never a big deal, even hitting the Medicare one. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go yell at some kids on the lawn, dang whippersnappers!

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    1. Ah Nylon12, a sorely needed laugh on this morning. Thank you.

      My friend commented that I was practicing "morbid math" - which I suppose I am. But your way is the better of it: another day to help someone.

      And, of course, shoe them off the lawn...

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  3. The comes a realization for a thinking man, that you have more past than future. I'm there as well. I used to double my current age to see where I'd be. I don't do that anymore.

    Happy birthday. Don't overthink this and paralyze your activity.

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    1. That is a good way to put it STxAR: More past than future. I just need to push through that part and get on with life.

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  4. Anonymous5:50 AM

    Your run could be over tomorrow TB. All you can do is live as if you still got it all in front of you and nothing as changed.

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    1. It is true - that is a maximal projection, much like my standard response to questions about the Second Coming of Christ: If you die tomorrow, whether you are pre-millennial, post-millennial, or a-millennial, it really will not matter.

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  5. LOL, I thought I was the only one using "contemplating my navel". Your in the, my aunt's word, 'doldrums' of life. You are not young any more, life isn't going to roll out to our liking, we are finding we are not what we hoped to be by this age. Whatever that meant for the 25 year old you. Life changes and sometimes we are not ready. This is why we land on introspection and stoicism. Or navel gazing. Remember G-D doesn't have a check list for you to meet. Are you a good person who follows the commandments? You still have a lot of living to do. So enjoy every day. Because it's not coming again.

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    1. GlassLass, I do try and approach everything with the aspect of "At this point, this is the youngest/most in shape/least in pain I will be."

      In terms of what I was hoping to be - egads, I have no idea what that was. I suspect it did not involve endless hours in front of a screen managing meetings and working on proposals. It reminds of the commercial from years ago that no child ever says "I want to work in a cubicle when I grow up". Yet many of us do.

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  6. Anonymous12:29 PM

    Years ago one of my brothers (who is an atheist, interestingly enough) gave me a card with a button on it that says "Birthdays are a gift from God". For that matter, each day is a gift. I've always been aware of that since both of my parents died young. I think I know where you're coming from, though. The older I get (and I'm pretty sure I'm much older than you are), the more I wonder if I'm living as God wants me to. As you said, the past is gone, so what I need to be concerned with is not the future, but each new day that God gives me. It's not easy for me to shift the focus away from myself to others, particularly with the challenges that aging brings, but I'm making an honest effort. With God's grace and mercy.....
    -Kelly

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    1. That is it exactly Kelly. There is a more of a concern about living the way God wants me to - after all, at some point I am going to show up in front of Him and give an explanation for my life. I hope I have done what I was supposed to do with the gifts he gave me. But I often doubt it.

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  7. Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of. - Franklin

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    1. If I ever I want to feel like I am not using my time effectively, I just need to re-read about Franklin. I wish I had a quarter of his energy and resolve.

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  8. Anonymous6:24 AM

    My only brother and sibling has fully rounded the corner of 70. He tells me mst of his weeks are punctuated by visits to the doctor for various and sundry ailments. Once an old hours shoe pitching friend of his told him, “you go to the doctor and you buy the prescriptions and you keep going back to the doctor and that’s your life till you die”….
    Seems sad. Don’t believe you are at that state yet. If you get there -inevitably- you will know you’ve touch some lives from your ramblings and stories here.

    Franknbean

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    1. FranknBean - This is what I have both observed in my parents and my in-laws. Life seems to become one long extended trek to and from the medical profession.

      Thank said, I am not there yet, not by a long shot - but yes, we will all walk through that door someday.

      Thank you so much as well for the kind words. Any author ultimately writes to make a difference - if I have, then it really does make this all worthwhile.

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  9. I have experienced that feeling as well. My 60th is this year and yikes! How'd that happen so fast! Most of my family and close friends have passed on and I find myself having to struggle to make new, like minded friends. That leads me to feeling insecure. I spend a lot of time alone with my critters and I've grown comfortable with that. Keeping the farm critters and food plants tended keeps me going an doing. And I do still work and I love what I do but its physically taxing and making it all the way to retirement age is iffy. But! For me I will keep going and doing until I cant. I could retire now but with the expense and uncertainty of things currently ill go until I cant, and save any an all extra I can. And not think too hard about next year... But focus on the next few days or week.

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    1. Annie, I have no idea how this happened so fast. I blame time travel.

      I think you are on to something - I have had friends who have started to pass that are at or below my age, and that sobers one up like nothing else. It does make one question what one is doing now and why we are doing it - at least me, anyway, as my career seems a million miles away from what I want to be doing.

      I do find making new friends hard as well - to be honest, given the way the world is now, it seems so much more risky. One has to almost go through the equivalent of a "friend courtship" to make sure enough aligns that the friendship can really exist.

      The future has me nervous as well - like you, I am of the mind to keep "plugging away" given the uncertainty of it all until my hand is forced. And try to prepare for the future as best I understand it to be.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. I've been in this state of mind (of realizing the time ahead is dwindling fast) for about a decade now. Sometimes I feel desperate about it. Sometimes depressed. Sometimes just resigned. Presently, I'm doing a fair bit of thinking about things literally stored in closets (as you write). What for? I have all sorts of answers to that question, but I don't know which answer is necessarily correct.

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    1. Becki - I have been slowly edging my way there, but the combination of some uncertainty at work and the fact of the "birthday" and that acquaintances my age or slightly older/younger are dying has me questioning - as does my parent's house, which is still full of many wonderful things that we need to find the correct homes for. It has made me seriously re-examine my own life: Why do I have these things? Will I use them? Do I need more?

      My suspicion - to be confirmed with more thought - is likely no, I do not need them, and in fact I should be actively paring down. I need to think on this more.

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