No. 862



The American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) once said of time, “It is the shadow on the dial, the striking of the clock … these are but arbitrary and outward signs, the measure of Time, but not Time itself. Time is the Life of the Soul.” There is one thing we can all agree on. Time is one of the most precious commodities we have, and one day the shadow will stand still and the clock will cease to report, because our time will run out.
It has been said that time is the great equalizer because the bum and the billionaire have exactly the same amount -- 24 hours each day, no more and no less. However, we don’t all have the same number of days to live as mortals on this planet. Each day in our daily newspaper there is an obituary section that reports recent deaths in our community, both local residents and those with ties to our city. I always read these, at least scan each one, to see if it’s someone I know personally, and follow up with a sympathy note or card to let members of the family know that I am thinking about them and I care.
These thoughts came to mind as I read something a friend sent me a few days ago. It was a relatively short piece that really put the value of time into perspective. As you know, in our society one person’s time is more valuable than another’s. For example, a brain surgeon will earn more in an hour than most hourly workers will earn in a month. This is not to say that one person is any better or more important than any other. It just says they spent more time in preparation to earn more, based on the values we have arrived at as a society. This is the economic perspective, but there are others that we all need to ponder from time to time.
As I share these, think about your life and where you are at this point in time. My 90-year-old mother in a nursing does not have much time left while, barring accident, illness or disease, the school-aged children who live next door have their whole lives in front of them. As I mentioned a moment ago, please ponder each of these thoughts as I share them. To realize the value of 10 years: ask a newly divorced couple. To realize the value of four years: ask a graduate. To realize the value of one year: Ask a student who has failed a final exam. To realize the value of nine months: Ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn.
To realize the value of one month: Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby. To realize the value of one week: Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper. To realize the value of one minute: Ask the person who has missed the train, bus or plane. To realize the value of one second: Ask a person who has survived an accident. Here I am reminded of the U.S. Airways flight that crash-landed in the Hudson River in New York City. When Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made those split-second decisions, there was precious little time to waste.
Yes, the time we have left is precious. As humans, when each of us is born we do not know how much time we will have to live on this small planet. If we live to a normal life expectancy, the training we have had, and the choices we make, will determine whether our life is a success or a failure, based on our relationship to God and the service we provide to our fellowman. You see, time waits for no one. We should treasure every moment we have, and we will treasure it even more when we can share it with someone special. And just remember, to realize the value of a friend, or family member: LOSE ONE. My prayer is that this will be a red-letter day for you and those you serve and care about.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)