I need an extra hour in my day. Maybe two. Actually, maybe 24. Imagine what I could do with a whole extra day….
These are the things I am thinking as I step out of the grocery store and into the late afternoon sunlight. Between staying on top of the happenings at my daughter’s school, the constant demands of work, and the general business of life, it feels like I don’t have any moments to spare. Manifesting time seems like the only solution even though I know it’s completely out of the question.
I slip on my sunglasses as I head toward my car. Ahead of me, an older gentleman makes his way across the parking lot. Since I’m hurrying and he is walking much slower than I am, it doesn’t take long before I find myself beside him.
“Are those high heels I hear?” he asks. He stops walking and turns his head down toward the sound.
I stop for a second and look down at my feet. Two black triangles peek out from the bottom of my jeans. “I like how tall I feel when I wear them,” I say, as I lift my gaze to meet his. The two inches they add to my height put me shoulder to shoulder with him.
“I like the way they sound. Clip clop. Clip clop.” He gently stomps his feet as he says this.
“Me too,” I agree as I smile. His kind eyes have a faraway look in them, as if he is remembering something.
“My wife,” he starts to say, but his voice trails off. He blinks, but when his eyes open, it seems as if the memories are still there. Although the yogurt in my bag is getting warm and I have a hundred other things I could be doing, I decide to stay for a moment. I remove my sunglasses, a silent acknowledgement that I want to know more.
“My wife,” he says again, his face lighting up as he realizes I’m willing to listen. “She used to wear high heels all the time, and I remember she’d wear them when we went dancing. She was so tiny she fit perfectly inside my arms. The best times of my life were spent with her, laughing and dancing and listening to the sound of her heels as they tapped across the floor.”
This man’s face holds only happiness as he continues to remember her. People make their way past us and cars drive around us, but as we talk for a few minutes more, I’m able to drown out the noise and the tiny — and now insignificant — voice in my head telling me I have other things to do. As I finally move to leave, he places his hand on my shoulder. He thanks me for taking the time to listen to a story of an old man who loved a woman more than anything else in the world, and then he points down at my feet. “I wish my wife and I would have had more time together, but those shoes helped bring her back. Thank you for helping me remember.”
My interaction with this stranger stays with me as I go about my day. I think about how I would have missed sharing in that special moment had I decided that I truly didn’t have any extra minutes to spare.
* * *
It is still with me as the week continues and on into Wednesday as I sit patiently in a church pew, gently tapping those same high heels against old, worn-out green carpet. I am waiting for the church service to begin that my daughter’s Kindergarten class is putting on that morning. My daughter, Zoey, had been selected to read the Prayers of the Faithful at the mass, and she had spent the past few weeks eagerly learning the words and diligently practicing her lines. I hadn’t been able to figure out what she was more excited about: the fact that she had a part or the fact that I would be there watching her. It was during a time I was supposed to be at work, and although I had a few deadlines, nothing was so pressing that I couldn’t take the time to show up and support her.
Zoey finally turns around and sees me, and she asks the teacher if she can say hi. Her teacher nods, and Zoey runs up to me. I quickly wrap her up in a hug. “You’re going to do great, peanut,” I say.
“I know,” she agrees. “I’m not even nervous.”
We share a quiet hi-five, and I tell her to get back up to where her class is sitting. She starts to head back but then turns around after a few steps. “I’m so glad you could be here,” she says.
I couldn’t agree with her more.
* * *
The priest has stepped out into the church and is mingling among the rows as he gives his homily. He engages Zoey’s class in a set of questions, and since we are still celebrating Easter, they are centered around its central themes of life and death and resurrection. At one point he asks the children where heaven is. After a few serious answers and a few that make us all chuckle — including one that involves the planet Mars — he tells us all to look around at one another.
“We don’t have to wait until the end of our lives to experience heaven. It’s here in our days and in the people around us. It’s right now.”
I watch Zoey turn around, her eyes searching for me. When our gazes connect, her face lights up. She lifts her little arm and points to me, and I watch her tiny mouth say the words, “Yes. You. Heaven.”
* * *
My eyes and my heart are still full moments later. Zoey stands behind the podium, reading her prayers with such confidence. She is poised and articulate. To say I am proud would be an understatement.
As she finishes up her prayers and the mass starts to wrap up, I realize I am also proud of myself. Because this week, instead of hurrying through my days, just trying to check one more thing off my list, I took the time to slow down. By doing this, my time had became more memorable, more intentional, and more special because it had been shared with others: I slowed down for a few minutes to listen to the beautiful story of a woman who wore high heels and loved to dance with her husband. I slowed down to see my 5-year-old daughter’s bravery as she prayed — her voice unwavering — in front of hundreds of people. And I slowed down long enough to be reminded of exactly why appreciating the time that we have is so very important:
One day, it will all be gone, so we better use it wisely.
As hard as I try — and even though writing this Everyday Nostalgia series has changed so many of the things I do — I often find that I don’t spend my time as wisely as I should. I think most people feel the same way. Perhaps we should look at it differently: if our time — the time we have in our lives right now — is all that we have, we better use it the best that we can.
* * *
How will you spend the precious gift of time you have been given?
Will you spend it with your eyes shielded and your head down? Blindly moving through life, asleep at the wheel and shutting out the world because you don’t have any time to spare? Or will you wake up and open your eyes and start accepting that the gift of time is one of the most valuable gifts we have?
Let’s start taking our time back. Let’s take the time to experience the gifts in our lives. Let’s take the time to show up, to slow down, to stay, to listen, and to share. Let’s take the time to experience the wonder of it all.
Because we all have a few spare moments for that.
Week 16 Suggested Viewing
Simon & Garfunkel’s The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) is a classic, timeless song that has been treasured by many generations. Though it clocks in at a mere one minute and fifty-eight seconds, its lyrics sing lasting reminders about the importance of treasuring our time and noticing life’s preciousness.
Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last…
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life, I love you
All is groovy
Just joining me on my journey? Catch up on the Everyday Nostalgia series here.
At the The Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.