They say time is fleeting. I suppose it’s because time is something we always seem to run out of. Time is something we use, something we waste, something we can never get enough of. Time as we know it though, is a human invention. Before clocks, we awoke with the sun, ate whenever we were hungry and went to sleep when the sun went down. With the invention of clocks, we now get up around 7am, eat breakfast around 8am, have lunch at noon, have dinner sometime between 5pm and 7pm, and go to bed around 10pm. Now, this isn’t the same for everyone, but in general, this is how time affects us. In truth though, there is always enough time, the trick is to make it and apply it; a trick we have yet to truly master.
But the more I think about it, the more I am inclined to say, that life is fleeting. Not time, but life. Every year, I observe an event called Ohanami. Ohanami is a viewing of Sakura (cherry blossom) trees in High Park. For two weeks in late April or early May (depending on how warm our spring happens to be), the Sakura trees in High Park are covered in beautiful, white blossoms. Those white blossoms are considered to be the most beautiful in Japan, which is where those trees came from. They were given to the city of Toronto by Japan as a thank you for us housing displaced Japanese families after World War II. As beautiful as those blossoms are, a spring thunderstorm can pull those flowers off of the trees prematurely. If there is no bad weather, the blossoms will last, at most, two weeks before they fall off and are replaced by beautiful green leaves. I liken our lives to those Sakura blossoms. Life, in general, is a beautiful thing. To live is a wonderful thing. However, the length of our lives is unknown to us. There are a million and one ways our lives could be cut short; disease, a car accident, an at work accident, a complication from an injury, a bad infection, an embolism, a heart attack… For every moment we are alive, we should be thankful we have been able to live another moment.
My father passed away at the age of 66. Here in Canada, 66 is too young an age to die at. However, cancer does not discriminate against age, gender, sexual orientation, race, greed or culture. Cancer does not care who you are. I also had a cousin who passed away (also from cancer) at the age of 43. A very good friend of mine passed away in 2003 at the age of 23 of a heart attack. I almost lost my mother to a heart attack 4 years ago. She was only 60 then. And just recently, I almost lost someone else to a heart attack too soon. In fact, that person actually flat-lined and was brought back.
In the news, we’re constantly hearing about the latest gunshot victim, or the latest suicide bomber in the Middle-East. Recently, a sniper in the Middle-East went on a shooting spree; children were among the dead. Last month, a group of 10-15 gunmen entered a Nairobi mall and killed 72 people. Back in April, a Bangladeshi factory collapsed, killing 1,129 people. Last summer, a 23 year old man and a 14 year old girl were killed in a shooting on my street. A friend I went to high school with was murdered, along with her brother, by her common-law husband Christmas 2007. She was only a few years older than I was.
For those reasons, I say that life is as delicate as a flower and as precious as a gem. It is easy to say that we are going to live until we’re 80. But, how do we know that our lives won’t end tomorrow in a car accident, or because of a bad case of pneumonia? Quite simply, we don’t. We don’t know what the next two hours will bring will bring let alone the next 60 years. For that reason, we need to appreciate everything our life offers us. We need to appreciate the places we live and who we share those places with. We need to respect not only ourselves, but everyone we share our world with. They may be of a different skin colour or of a different creed or culture, but their lives are just as precious as our own. Those people have mothers, fathers and people who love them; people who would be devastated to hear of their deaths.
Life is fleeting. And because it is, it is special. No moment should be wasted. It doesn’t deserve to be wasted. There is are a couple of quotes from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring that sums all of this up nicely.
Frodo: “I wish none of this had happened.”
Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
The time we are given for our lives is not certain and that’s what makes it special. What are you going to do with the time that has been given to you?