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The Gift of Time

20150409_131207Time is…

Too slow for those who wait
Too swift for those who fear
Too long for those who grieve
Too short for those who rejoice
But for those who love
Time is Eternity

Yaddo 1901

I came across this quote on a sundial when strolling in the garden at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York. Yaddo is a retreat center for artists. It was founded in 1900 by financier Spencer Trask and his wife Kartrina. Its mission is to, “…nurture the creative process by providing an opportunity for artists to work without interruption in a supportive environment.”

I have often pondered time and its passage. I know I am not alone in this. From the time humans were evolved enough, safe enough and well fed enough to have the luxury of time to contemplate their existence, I am sure they also reflected on time’s passage. These thoughts are thoughts of an older man.

When I was young my thoughts about time were focused on how much time I had until the final bell rang at school and then how much time I had until the next school vacation. When out of school, thoughts of time centered around how long I could stretch my woods wandering and still be home on time for dinner.

Now my musings about time are centered around not how much time I have before school is over but how much time I have before my life is over. I did not think about my own mortality when I was ten. Even going to the funerals of my grandparents did not rewire my thoughts about time. They died. I was alive. It was that simple.

At age sixty-three (nearly sixty-four which puts my thoughts solidly in the classic Beetles tune about the ancient age I have nearly achieved), I am very well aware of my own mortality. While I don’t compulsively think about death, I do contemplate it and find myself reading about this miraculous transition we will all face someday. I am currently reading “The Grace in Dying” by Kathleen Dowling Singh.

Kathleen Singh works with dying patients in hospice care. She has attended the deaths of hundreds of people. She describes what she calls the “nearing death experience” as a process of miraculous transformation as we mentally surrender into letting go of this physical realm to transition to the Great Mystery of what lies beyond life. She has witnessed an acceptance of what is coming by most, but by no means all, of those whose deaths she has attended. I find her observations to be very comforting as I let my own mind wander down this path. I was holding onto my mother’s hand when she died and I found that moment to be as miraculous as when I attended the births of both of my children.

As I write this post, I find myself to be the recipient of a gift of time. Last week on a cold but sunny morning I impatiently went for a bike ride at my farm. As I was making my way up our Orchard Road I caught my front wheel in a frozen rut. As I went down, the hard saddle on my bike dug into my knee and tore my ACL.

For the first few days after this unfortunate accident, I struggled with what this would mean for my immediate coming days and weeks. I live a very active life that involves riding not only bicycles but also horses twice a week as I commute to work on horseback. I have two horses in residence at my barn as well as pigs, geese and chickens. All of these animals require daily care. My mobility is of paramount importance as I attend to my barn chores. I found myself wallowing in self pity. I felt cursed.

I awoke this morning after a restless night brought on by my inability to get comfortable with my compromised knee to find that my attitude had shifted from feeling cursed to feeling blessed. Normally my day would have been a long one involving riding to work for our first session of the day at 9:00 (I co-founded and help run an Equine Assisted Psychotherapy practice at my partner’s barn about a mile away from my farm) and then returning home at around 7:00 after our last session of the day.

Prudence dictated that I take the day off and the coming days off until I get my knee attended to. This morning I found myself surrendering into this forced “vacation” and embracing the gift of time I had been given by this turn of events. Yesterday, there was no surrender. There was instead, depression and anxiety. I cannot say why this shift in my thinking has taken place. Perhaps I have gained some wisdom in my sixty-three years. I would hope so. In any case, this gift of time has allowed me to begin my healing process with a positive attitude and the time to contemplate time. I do not expect any great epiphany. What I do look forward to is taking this moment in time to quietly reflect on my journey as my knee begins to heal. This is a gift that I will savor.

Michael Fralich
April 9, 2015

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