My grandfather was a prolific journal writer. Sometimes it was little more than trivial observations about his day, but other times he went into more depth talking about something. Of greatest interest to me at the moment are all the tidbits of family history he recorded. Some of it predates my existence, but much of it covers the time of my growing up, going to school and finally leaving home to pursue my own way in the world. While not focused on me specifically, what he recorded were events I often was involved in or at least knew about. At the time, I had no particular interest in them – kids usually aren’t terribly interested in the doings of their parents, aunts and uncles. But now, they provide a vivid reminder of a significant portion of my life. Sometimes I learn things I didn’t know (things you don’t tell the children) and sometimes I find out more about something I knew about but maybe didn’t fully understand.
Why is this important? Well, in my teen years I developed a slight interest in family history/genealogy. I gathered some little information, and I even sat down with my grandfather a time or two to ask questions and find out more. The thing is, I felt no urgency in the matter. High school students usually have other things of more pressing interest where they choose to focus their attention, and so did I. So the notes I scribbled down, without writing up completely while the information was fresh in my mind, did not always make sense years later when I looked at them again. It never occurred to me that it wouldn’t be perfectly obvious how “Aunt Sue” fit into the family tree, until I couldn’t place her. My grandfather could have readily told me, and answered a myriad of other questions that later surfaced – if I had thought to ask. It never occurred to him to give a lengthy explanation when I did not ask questions. For all he knew, I already had enough information not to need to know more. And then he was gone. Because people die. Many years later, my mother was also gone. And there are so many unanswered questions that remain behind.
When we are young, life will go on forever. While we know that it won’t, of course, the end is nowhere in our sight, so we happily live each day as it comes and expect no great negative changes to our world. But if we think about it, we know that isn’t likely. Death, accident, disease – all these and more can suddenly disrupt our existence and send our world careening off on a course we never imagined or expected. “People die when they get old”, except that isn’t always true. We don’t like to think of car accidents or terrorist attacks on public places, but they happen. And when they do, sometimes lives are ended much sooner than anyone would expect.
With that in mind, I encourage you to evaluate what is important to you. And then, don’t postpone doing/saying those things that matter most. Is it more important that you rewatch past episodes of Game of Thrones or spend time with your mother? Have you been meaning to tell your father/brother/sister/grandparents/spouse/significant other/friend how much they mean to you, but just haven’t taken the time to do it? Are there questions you want answers to, that someone could readily provide the answer, but you haven’t gotten around to asking? Would you love to travel and see more of the world, but don’t make time right now – putting it off until retirement?
Don’t postpone the most important things in your life. Game of Thrones will probably be available on Netflix or other such services for a very long time, but grandma may not last out the year 2017. Pinning things on Pinterest can happen most any time, but that exhibit on Egyptian artifacts that you want to see may be gone in six months and you’ll miss the chance. And by the time you reach retirement, finances and infirmity may greatly limit your ability to travel. Yes, time and money may restrict the things you can do in the here and now, but don’t let them slide, figuring you’ll get around to them eventually. Eventually may never come.
Consider your time and how you want to spend it.