Every morning it’s the same routine. I stumble downstairs, turn on the coffeemaker, unload the dishwasher before I wake up enough to realize how much I hate that particular chore, and tear off the page-a-day calendar to read the quote of the day.
Every year I have a different iteration of the page-a-day thing. One year it was Seize the Day; another was Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . This year it’s Daring Greatly. The jury is still out on this one because some of the quotes sound like they were chosen on a dare instead of for their intrinsic value.
Regardless of the value of the lines on the calendar, one of the things I look at is the bulk of the calendar itself: how many pages are left.
At the beginning of each year the deck is thick. There are so many pages left to be looked at. It’s an over abundance, and I can’t really wrap my head around it. In part, because of this, I feel a sense of power, “This year, I am going to…“ (fill in the blank). Look at how much time I have left to accomplish this.”
But you know what happens. We go back to school and work and our daily routines, and we pull the pages off the calendar without any conscious thought. It’s hard to notice a reduction in size when it only changes by the breath of a piece of paper.
I usually don’t have another awakening until I hit December, and I notice the calendar is almost gone, and then I have an existential crisis. Where did the time go? Is the same thing happening with the calendar that is my life? Fleeting day by day?
It just so happens that this past December, on the day I had this annual epiphany, this was the quote by Charles Richards: “Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.”
All of this came to mind this week as I talked to Madi at school. She and one or two other students that were on the study abroad program with her are having trouble adjusting to being back. We couldn’t figure out why some were happy as clams being back and others were struggling.
After talking to the professor that traveled with them, Madi told me that he said he’s been doing this for 45 years, and he struggles every time he comes home.
He explained that there are two types of people who study abroad. The first type enjoys it as an experience that happened to them and they truly enjoyed it, but they are fine returning. The other is the type who soaked up every part of the experience, who lived and breathed it. They are forever changed by it, and it’s difficult for them to return. I wonder how many times do we just allow experiences to happen to us - almost in a passive way?
There is a remaining part of the previous quote that was not on the calendar page. “One man gets only a week’s value out of a year, while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.” And it's true. We see how different people are all the time.
I know I’ve referenced H.L. Mencken before, but I love the description I read about him, “He seized each day, shook it to within an inch of its life, and then gaily went on to the next.” What vivacity!
That’s what I want my calendar to represent this year: a life fully lived and enjoyed. I just have to figure out how to frame going to work and doing laundry as an “adventure”.