Charity should begin at home, but should not stay there. ~ Philip Brooks
You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ~ Anonymous
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray
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RACE AGAINST TIME
Every year, about this time, I do a letter to the current year’s graduates of high schools and post-secondary educational institutions. My message this year is about time.
Remember when you were very young? At five years old, you probably couldn’t wait to go to school. The excitement of meeting new friends and learning was appealing. It seemed like it took forever until your parents proudly dropped you off for your first day. You probably asked yourself, “Why does it take so long to get older?”
Birthdays were a real big thing as a kid. You wanted to be older. If you were seven and your birthday was still half a year away, you would tell people you were seven and a half, because you’d already been seven for a really long time. You probably asked yourself, “Why does it take so long to get older?”
Next, you couldn’t wait to be a teenager. You looked forward to more freedoms and a later bedtime. Ages ten to eleven seemed to take longer than any other year. You probably asked yourself, “Why does it take so long to get older?”
The next big milestone was sweet sixteen. From fifteen to sixteen seemed like an eternity. That’s when you could get a part-time job so you could have your own spending money. You could get your driver’s license, giving you yet more freedom. You probably asked yourself, “Why does it take so long to get older?”
As your high school years progressed, time likely dragged on. The responsibilities of a part-time job probably didn’t hold the same excitement as when you entered the workforce. In grade ten, graduation seemed a distant goal. You probably asked yourself, “Why does it take so long to get older?”
But something happened in your senior year, didn’t it? If you were behind on credits, this was where you had to make up for lost ground. If you had aspirations of post-secondary school, you had to study harder and reach for the highest grades you could get. You always wished you had one more day to tweak that essay before handing it in, or just one more day to study for that BIG test to ensure you didn’t forget anything. You probably thought to yourself, “Where did the year go?” as you congratulated your classmates and thanked your mentors and teachers for taking you this far.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news to our young men and women, but your days of waiting for time to pass are over. If you think your last year of formal education, public or post-secondary, went fast, you haven’t seen anything yet. Time is like a really long train. It takes a long time to gain momentum, but once it gets up to speed, it can get away from you if you’re not paying attention. You need to enjoy and appreciate every moment of every day.
I remember the day I walked off the U of C campus and immediately started looking for work. There will only be so many jobs available in the field you want to pursue, so it’s like a race to get on with the best companies. If you think the education you received was intense thus far, you’re in for a shocker. Because once you land that job, you will constantly be learning for the rest of your life… your livelihood depends on it and deadlines will always make time short and precious.
Before long, you’ll meet someone special. You’ll want to plan a life with them. Hopefully, you’ve been prudent with your money and have saved up enough for a downpayment on a home of your own. I’m a big proponent of living at home and giving your parents a couple hundred dollars a month for groceries so that you can save the rest of what you earn to buy a place, as it will take decades to do so if you are paying rent to a landlord. That time will go quickly, as you will be racing against rising property values, interest rates, and taxes.
Once you start a family, time will go even quicker. Birthdays of your children will come much quicker to you than it will for them. Your twenties will end in a flash, and your thirties will seem but a flash into your forties. Enjoy your children, through good or bad behavior, cherish every moment because then, one day, you’ll be watching as they proudly walk across the stage at a graduation ceremony.
Your parental duties done, you’ll be turning your attention towards preparing for retirement, realizing you only have so many years left to save for that. It’s at that moment you’ll tell yourself, “I thought getting old would take a lot longer.”
Enjoy your summer, take pride in your accomplishments thus far and… welcome to the race against time.