Time is relative and, like all human constructs, an imperfect way to define our lives. I have to remind myself that most of human history is not recorded and; therefore, it’s probable that much of it did not include a formal concept of time. Things just happened. You wake up one morning and you have a full head of hair; you wake up another morning and most of it’s gone. Right now I’m working on a computer as the City Manager of Albany; and with barely a pause, I’m a consultant visiting local government officials in Dar es Salaam. Beyond that, who knows?
Given that time is an artificial construct that helps us organize our lives, I am not of the opinion that you can waste it. I prefer purpose and direction, but much of what I regard as the greatest blessings in my life was spontaneous. I certainly did not plan to get married at some designated time in my life, nor did I set targets for accomplishing goals before reaching a predetermined age. All of this may explain why I didn’t finish college until my mid-thirties. I had no idea when I would retire until about a year and half ago. I reached that decision when I realized I was approaching the end of my lifetime quota of evening meetings.
Time also play tricks on us. Last night, my 14-year-old granddaughter called me to settle a dispute between her and my mother-in-law (her great-grandmother). Taylor, my granddaughter, had a memory of going to the Portland Airport where my name was called over the loudspeaker to help remove my mother-in-law from an airliner. According to Taylor, Great-grandma was misbehaving on the plane, and I had to be called to help get her off the jet. Neither my mother-in-law nor I had any memory of this alleged event; and if you knew my mother-in-law, you could imagine her attitude toward this story. Even after a lengthy conversation, I’m still not sure my granddaughter believed her memory just wasn’t true. Any older person looking for amusement should sit down with their adult children and ask them about childhood memories. Warning! Do not dredge up old memories with a spouse unless your relationship is very secure.
Time, of course, has been on my mind recently because I’m starting a new phase in my life and will soon be seeing less of some important people and places. I have very vivid memories of starting work in Albany a dozen years ago, when I had only three grandchildren, a mustache, and a Buick LeSabre. Now I have 17 (soon 18) grandchildren, no facial hair, and a Ford. Somehow those changes occurred, without contradiction, overnight and over the course of many years. My memories of working here for the past 12 years may be a little warped by time; but I know with certainty that while I might have changed a few things, I will always treasure the whole experience.