A special moment for me every New Year’s Day is when I take the old year’s calendar off the wall and put up the new calendar. I revisit the old calendar pictures a bit wistfully, before turning to the unexplored images of the untouched, new year.
In particular, I remember that moment on the morning of January 1, 1964.
I was a kid. For me, 1963 had been a really good year. So, on New Year’s morning, instead of throwing the old calendar in the garbage (the curbside blue box wouldn’t be invented until 1977), I surprised my mom by carefully putting the old calendar in a drawer. She asked me why I wanted to keep it.
“I’m going to keep it until it’s 1963 again,” I replied.
Ah, the innocence of youth! Between the one-and-only 1963 and today, I’ve learned a bit about time. It’s long been obvious to me that you can’t recycle it. You can’t reuse it. You can’t revisit it. The 56-year-old Dave can never again be the 7-year-old Dave.
Fast-forward to today and another epiphany about how we humans experience time. (And “fast-forward” is a pretty accurate description of how most adults really experience time!)
I’ve been retired about two years now, which has given me an opportunity to step back from the hurly-burly world of work and raising kids and paying for houses and stuff, to broaden my perspective on other things, such as time.
My second epiphany is this: I wasn’t entirely wrong that cold January morning, so long ago. No matter how much time has passed, you can rediscover — maybe even relive — many of the things that you’ve learned from experience make you happy. Things you haven’t had time for. Things that got crowded out by the other priorities of a busy life. And you don’t need to go back in time to reacquaint yourself with those under-developed aspects of your own life.
Of course, you can’t relive your 8th birthday party and past a certain point, it’s unhealthy to spend too long thinking about times gone by. But in the past two years, I’ve found renewed joy by:
- Curling: I went curling for the first time since 1975. For years, my brother Steve had been trying to get me out to an annual family bonspiel and I’d never had time. Last year, I did, and I loved re-experiencing this great sport!
- Photography: I became serious again about photography. Thirty years ago, I was an award-winning photojournalist. Over the years, I’d become so jaded about photography that I didn’t bother bringing my camera to family gatherings. But in the past two years, I’ve rediscovered my earlier enthusiasm. And today’s digital photography is cheaper, greener, easier to share, and vastly more flexible and creative than what I’d experienced in my darkroom years ago.
- Exercise: I’ve rediscovered fitness after years of being too busy or too lazy to bother. I’m amazed at the benefits!
No matter what your job is, the working years are incredibly busy and your time is beyond valuable. You’re likely constantly scurrying — multi-tasking, living in constant sleep-deficit, maybe making do with fast food, perhaps skipping exercise and feeling guilty about missing out on important things.
The changing of the year presents a natural time to reflect and renew. Why not:
- Review how you’ve spent the time that’s gone by. What time was well spent? What time did you miss-spend?
- Rediscover what you’ve been missing or haven’t found enough time for. Make time to renew yourself.
- Discover what else you want to do with your time. It’s an amazing world and there’s a lot to do.
I wish you a 2013 that’s both a Happy New Year and a fulfilling year of renewal!
More tips and tools to make the New Year bright:
- Free online courses for learning at any age
- Maybe I need off-the-job training
- No bucket list for me!
- Seven questions to ask yourself before you retire
- Volunteering in retirement
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