“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” – Robert Frost
I ran into a lady yesterday I hadn’t seen in years. She was the office manager for one of my clients. Over the course of several years waiting in the reception area, I got to know this lady and a little about her family. Unlike so many other “gate-keeper” types for successful business people I always found her very polite and engaging. Honestly I got to the point where I would rather talk to her than my client.
I recognized Janice immediately and introduced myself to her again. I remembered that she had two daughters, both attending the high school that my kids would eventually go to, and asked how they were. She said the oldest was married, living in Atlanta and had two boys, 4 and 2. Her youngest was married, lived in-town and just had a baby girl. She was the grandmother of three she beamed.
For whatever reason this revelation stunned me. How could her kids be that old? How could this pretty lady be a grandmother of three? It seemed like just yesterday that I was sitting in the lobby chatting with her about high school, prom and college visits. But it wasn’t yesterday.
She said she left my clients company 16 years ago, after her oldest graduated from high school. Her girls were 34 and 32 years old. I smiled and said, “Where has the time gone?” and she gave me a wonderful but very simple response, “On”.
I have a little leather business card holder that I keep in my car but rather than business cards it is filled with pictures of my kids, from infant through middle school. When I was younger and having a rough day I would pull those pictures out and remember why I got up that morning and put on a coat and tie. But I can’t do that anymore. I look at those pictures now and turn into a blubbering idiot. The spectacle of a 56-year-old man sobbing in his car is not a pretty sight.
The emotion I feel when I look at those pictures is not sadness or at least it shouldn’t be. It is more a realization that things have changed and continue to change and I have absolutely no control over that change. Life goes on, whether I decide to participate or not. Life goes on, whether I decide to be engaged or not. Life goes on.
I told Janice goodbye and said I hoped we didn’t wait 16 more years to run into each. She laughed and said, “Well if takes that long I will be 80. I hope you will still recognize me”. I smiled, gave her a hug and left.
Where has the time gone? On, whizzing by us like a swarm of bees. We think we can corral it, control it or even slow it down, but we can’t. Time doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, it treats everyone the same. Cherish the time you have, cherish the time you have with the people you love and accept the fact that life goes on with or without us.
“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” – Rabindranath Tagore