The treadmill on the far end was open. “Great!” I thought…. “That means there’s less chance of people on both sides of me wanting to talk.” In my ambitious multi-tasking mode yesterday, I had intended to listen to my routine “Sermon of the Day” by John Piper, usually lasting just under an hour, while getting my 3-mile walk in. But no sooner did I program my walk into the treadmill, and the 84-year-old woman next to me began asking me just what my headphones were. I explained to her that they go in my ears so that I can listen to music or whatever else I choose. She kept talking. After several attempts to put them in my ears, I realized I’d made a new friend who was quite chatty, and she was rather interesting, so I tucked them away and listened. She told me all about herself. In just 15 minutes I learned that she and her husband recently joined the gym, that at 84 she was about to become a grandmother for the very first time, and that she and her husband had made a living owning a book store. “But no one buys books anymore. No one talks anymore. People don’t even look at each other anymore. Everyone just has those things in their ears and their eyes on their devices.” As I did a quick skim of my surroundings, I knew she was right. Everyone was doing their own thing, and everyone had an electronic device on them. No one was talking or making eye contact. When Lorraine, my new friend, got off the treadmill to leave with her husband, I walked to the door with her, hugged her, and thanked her for the chat. Then I asked her the question I ask every elderly person I get to spend time with. “If you had only one piece of wisdom to share with me – just one – what would it be?” With absolutely no hesitation, she said, “Time doesn’t stand still. Use it wisely.”
“Time” seems to be the “theme” that keeps surfacing for me. Just hours before that I’d been in a restaurant with friends and I laughed silently to myself when “If I could save TIME in a bottle” was playing. The word TIME comes up, it seems, in every song, every book, every conversation…… I’ve thought a lot lately about the concept of time, and have decided I waste quite a bit of it. (You probably do too!)
When making a purchase yesterday, I had to peek in my checkbook and make sure there was enough money left. What if each time I participated in an activity, whether it be as small as glancing at my phone to check my email, to having lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while – I could look into my time account and see how much of it I had left ?? I bet I’d stop right in the middle of half (or more) of the things I spend my time doing. I bet my priorities would look quite different than they do!
I look at my phone too often. I commit to things out of obligation that I am not at all interested in doing. I scroll social media sites reading what is happening in the lives of people I hardly know. And oh, I worry. I worry a lot…. about my kids, about my retirement, about my schedule, about my future…… as if God hasn’t got it all worked out. (He does). Last night I even posted a question on social media asking for ideas of meaningful things to put on a monthly bucket list. I’d be willing to bed that if I put my phone down, said “so long” to social media, and began living as though TIME DID NOT STAND STILL, I’d have a rather “meaningful” month….. (Although I DID get some amazing ideas from friends that I intend to do!)
Every day I glean some wisdom from John Piper’s hour-long “Sermon of the Day,” but I’m sorry Pastor John….. Yesterday, my new friend Lorraine gave me quite the little nugget of wisdom in just a few short minutes. Oh, I’ll still have my daily dose of John Piper, I’m sure. But I won’t do it on the treadmill, or anywhere near people. For April, it’s “So long, social media!” In the words of my new 84-year-old friend Lorraine, I’m going to live as though time does not stand still. And at least for now – I have NO IDEA what that’s going to look like, but I’m looking forward to it!
If you’ll excuse me now, I’m headed to the gym – to a treadmill in the middle of two people, hoping for some eye contact and some conversation 😉