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Thursday, October 13, 2011

The gift of our time

When we're young, and even in our middle-aged years, we get so busy that we tend to lose sight of the real important things in our lives, because they seem so simple. We become so absorbed by new people, projects, plans, purposes, and promises, that we forget all the old ones that made us who we are today. And sometimes it takes an unexpected event to regain our focus and realize what should really be our priority.

There is a story about a young, successful man, who had moved to another town to increase his career chances in life. He also had a wife and son, but, like most young fathers and husbands, he did not spend a lot of time with them, because he was always doing something that was either important or urgent. One day his mother called and told him that their old neighbor had passed away. The young man was quiet for a moment, then admitted that he honestly thought the old man had died long ago. Well, this wasn’t the case, and the mother was hoping he would be able to come over for the funeral. But the young man stated that he was too busy. His mother talked on and started reminiscing about all the things the old neighbor did for the young man when he was a little boy. Gradually the past started reliving and the young man realized what a major role the old neighbor had played in his childhood, especially after he lost his father. Images that he had long forgotten returned to his mind: the neighbor teaching him to create and repair little things, to make his own kite, to fix his bicycle tire... And while his mother was still recalling how nice it was of this old neighbor to try and play the role of a semi-father in the young boy's life, the young man felt his heart melting and said to his mother that he would attend the funeral after all.

The funeral was small and insignificant, and as the young man was driving his mother home, she suggested to visit the old neighbor’s house one more time. Everything was the same, except for an old box, which had consistently been the center of his attention as a little boy. He had always asked what was in that box, but the old neighbor had only smiled vaguely. Weeks later, as life had regained its hectic pace, a package was delivered to the young man's office. It turned out to be the box from the neighbor, which he had left to the young man. The antique box, a beauty in its own right, contained a wonderful gold watch, in which five words were engraved: “Thank you for your time.”

These 5 words changed the young man's perspective on life. He suddenly realized how much their time together must have meant to the old neighbor, and what a valuable gift time really is. We allocate our time to projects and things that later seem so futile in the larger scheme of things. Let us consider that, be grateful for the time others give us, and carefully consider which dear person we withheld the gift of our time lately. Then, let's do something about that!

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