I started high school in the fall of … well, it doesn’t matter. But I was young. We all are aren’t we? One minute we are the top of the food chain in 8th grade. Next thing you know you are at the bottom again being the pecked upon. Well, so they say. I don’t really remember being tormented so much by “upper classmen and/or women”. But there is one thing I clearly remember from my freshman year. I was warned about it, I knew what was going to happen. But when it did, it stopped that moment in time. And I can not get it out of my head. And I don’t want to. I value it’s lesson.
Freshman religion class. This class obviously does not pertain to your public education. But for the purpose of what I am going to write about, it doesn’t matter. It just happened to occur in this class. “Mr. I” was the teacher. A wonderful man. Kind man. Smart man. Even though I had heard the tales of his “Freshman Speech” I did not believe it could be “bad” or “threatening”. Not from him. He was, as I recall, a gentle man. He started our class with “the” speech. I do not remember how long it was, what he said before, or what he said after. All I remember is him pointing to the clock on the wall. Typical class room clock. Black numbers on white background. With a second hand. Tick. Tock. Tick. He told us to look at it. I still remember turning my head and looking at the wall. It was an outside wall. The clock was above the windows. Tick. He said “every second that passes on that clock is a second closer to your death”.
Oh. My. God.
That’s true. He’s right. I panicked just a little at that moment. I can not stop the clock.
I still think back to that moment. I have no recollection of the brilliance I am sure he followed that up with. All I remember is that and that it was sunny out. And I have thought of that many times over the years. I’m not going to do the math but surely there have been millions of seconds that have flown by since that pronouncement. Millions of seconds. There were times when I thought of that and thought of the wasted seconds. The seconds spent doing nothing, when I should have been doing something. The seconds spent being negative when I should have tried to be positive. Seconds wasted on cussing when I should have been singing. Seconds that I gave up for no good reason. That I can not get back. Those seconds, gone. Gone in to minutes, hours and years.
I thought of it again the other day.
I have wasted a few seconds I suppose. But it sometimes takes a little extra time to get where we are suppose to be. I don’t break my life down to the seconds. But the process. The moments. I go through my day trying to live in the moment. To cherish moments. Some moments are spent getting to the next moment that is more important. Which makes the moment I take to get there, just as valuable. And though I recognize moments I don’t always break my living down to that either. Sometimes it’s a day by day kind of living. And that’s good too. It’s like a great bike ride. Some of my best bike rides have not been the flat, pedal in the sunshine and wind at my back rides. But like my first 100 miler. I climbed hills that felt like mountains, and they had to be climbed. I wanted to do this. I had to go forward to get back . But once the climbs were sweated out and muscles strained to accomplish the climb, the ride down the other side was exhilarating and “seemed” more fun. But in actuality the burn in my muscles, the strain in my legs, the powerful engine pounding in my chest-felt good. And I remember that more than the thrill of the down hill. It was “easy”. The more difficult seconds I spent are the ones I remember, and even value more. The process of getting there was certainly not a waste. I had to spend those seconds suffering some what, to get the great feeling of the accomplishment. The great feeling of living fully. Living fully by using seconds to get to, to do, to recover, to get through. Seconds spent.
The seconds I have spent getting to here are like seconds in my life account. I have accumulated those seconds. I have learned from them. I remember them. I spent them, and yet I own them.
I am not closer to my death. I am just that much fuller of life.