Hominy & Hash
SIFTING THROUGH THE SANDS OF TIME
by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, GA. -- This week, and I mean this particular week as it comes every year - the 51st week counted off on the last page of the calendar - this year's calendar, last year's and, if we're lucky, next year's, has always been a week divided. For a couple of days a hectic pace continues and then there are a few days to relax, tie things up and reflect.
Usually reflecting goes back no further than the year ending but there comes a time when reflections take up much more time than preparing a list of resolutions for the New Year. Let's face it: if we haven't changed our ways as we've resolved to do during this week in the past, well then, forget about it.
There are birthday cards available with the year of your birth as the cover design and a time line of what was going on that year. The shadowy pictures emerging through the print are styles of the times, especially bathing suits, haircuts, hats and cars. Of course you remember nothing of that year and nor anything of the next two. What you do remember is that all of a sudden you were six and you started making New Year's Resolutions with the rest of the family.
Year after year, the lists are made and everyone resolves to do better, look better, save more, quit bad habits, create new ones. (Actually, the practice goes back to the Babylonians when the number one resolution was to return borrowed equipment.) But now, I'm not resolving anything at all except to reflect more.
I've already begun and in just moments I can see my life in twenty-year spans. I'm aware our first 20 years are the learning years and the sands of that time were clogged in the hourglass. Time was slower to pass and we were anxious to move it along.
"When's my birthday?"
"When does school let out?"
"When do we go back to school?"
"Do you think he likes me?"
"When will I get these braces off?"
"When can I wear high heels?"
"When will he ask me out?"
"When will I be 16 so I can drive?"
"When, when, when?"
For the next 20 years, the yearning years I call them, hopes are high, dreams are made, and sands shift. You hope you make the grade, hope you get a job, hope you fall in love with someone who loves you back. You hope your choices are good, hope you get married, hope you have a son, hope you have a daughter, hope you can do it, and resolve again each year to try. These yearning years are character building because hopes do get dashed and dreams do fade. Blame it on the shifting sands.
Then that span ends and ushered in are the years to hold on and keep going, taking one day at a time. I call these the earning years. There are still moments of yearning; you find yourself giving into thoughts of what might have been; your list of resolutions might be longer; and yet, some old resolutions may actually be resolved. It's here that we take notice of how quickly time is passing. We find ourselves saying more than once, "When I was a kid summers lasted f-o-r-e-v-e-r and now by the Fourth of July, it's all over … here comes Halloween.
I've passed through all these times and now I'm in the midst the latest 20-year span. These are the fulfillment years. The sands are warm around our feet as we leave footprints going toward what's coming. The future years in these 20 may be unknown but it's easy to see the sands of time are slipping through our fingers as easily as water from a spout. The biggest temptation is to look back as if we could still build upon what's ahead. (Well, of course, we can still be builders and shapers of our futures but there are limitations. I can't prepare myself for a career in archeology, signing up for a lengthy dig under the hot sun in the sands of Egypt.) But I've gained enough wisdom not to waste my precious time looking back with the sole purpose of saying, "If only... ."
What is coming in this sand storm of rapidly passing days is definitely a whirlwind of wondering - wondering for the most part about the next generation. I try to visualize how their lives will play out. I wonder if looking at a video game instead of life all around them will work for them. Or, is the video game training them in some way to face the kind of life that lies ahead. And I wonder what does lie ahead? Is their obvious need for instant gratification going to help them through their years of learning, yearning and earning to reach their fulfillment? Hmmm. I can only wonder.
In sifting those sands, I've learned exactly how I got from then and there to here and now yet I continue to wonder how and why it all happened so quickly. I may always wonder but before I finished this evening's reflecting I could clearly see "wonder" as the greater part of "wonderful."