As my time here on the project for the new Air Traffic Control Tower draws to a close, and I reflect on what my successes were, and where I had room to improve, I have also reflected on what I might consider was the key to feeling the effort was worthwhile.
I found that there were some similarities between coming out of retirement for this project, for my attendance at a wonderful church here, and for my years working in Spain. For me the key was recognizing that my time in any of those was limited, and having a desire to make the most of it. In all three cases, this led to my CHOICE to be enthusiastic – not because I decided it would be good to be enthusiastic, but because I wanted to approach the time with PASSION. And again, I recognized that the time in all three of these cases was limited, and I would return to “real life” afterwards.
But I also have to ask myself, how well do I apply this principle to life in general? After all, my time in this world is also limited, highlighted as parents become elderly with health issues. Back when I talked about the Origins of Don Juan / Time Flies, I shared a couple famous paintings in Sevilla’s Hospital de Caridad, and in Metz, France an hourglass with wings over a tomb in the cemetery. Can I recognize that not only is time valuable, but I have much less left, and then choose to make the most of it?
There is an excellent book, One Month to Live: Thirty Days to a No-Regrets Life, that leads you to think about your life as though you have been told you have one month to live, and think about what you might do differently, then apply that to whatever time you do have left. (I have added a few links at the top of my blog home page, bottom of sunset picture. One is recommended resources, where I will put links to books like this after their first mention here. There is also a 1983 newspaper article that goes with my Feb. 18, 2011 post.) I suggest that not only would you do less of some things and more of others, you would be more enthusiastic about those things you did more of, like spend time with loved ones.
So, when it comes to life, do I choose to plop down in front of the TV after work and waste time, as John Mellencamp’s song words go through my mind: “Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of livin’ is gone?” Or do I read a book with insights and encouragement that has the ability to change my life for the better? More importantly still (in this blog), I was able to make a memory for our marriage in 1983 while working months and months on a special project in Miami and San Juan. But what have I done recently? Am I living like “Oh yeah, love goes on, long after the thrill of lovin’ is gone?” Or do I choose to be enthusiastic, and invest Good Passion for Good Love?
Make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:16). Some translations have “redeeming the time” for the first half of that. I like the idea of redeeming my time, to set it free, free for me to choose to use it wisely, for Good Passion, and to make Good Love into Better Love. The Spanish NVI says it even better (back to my English): “making the most of every opportunity.” While that will sound the same to most of you, the verb used in Spanish also brings to my mind “to take advantage of.” So I want to take advantage of the time I have, AND make the most of it. In Spain, there is a polite saying that even strangers say to someone who is already eating, when they come into a restaurant. The saying uses this same verb, and you could translate the saying as “enjoy your meal,” but I prefer “make the most of your meal,” even though that would not be the thought in the mind of the person saying it. That is what I want to do – make the most of as much as I can.
As for the “evil times” part of Eph. 5:16, at this moment we probably all think that yes these times are indeed evil, with the adultery and sending photos of privates that are in the news. But for me, the days are also evil because it is so easy to waste our personal resources – time and money.
I find three easy steps towards making the most of every opportunity:
(1) – Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, from Phil. 3:13 (which I talked about on encouragement)
(2) – recognize my time (and other resources) are limited
(3) – choose to be enthusiastic, and exercise passion in what I do
What about you – what will you choose? Doing nothing new, changing nothing IS a choice too.