Every Day is a Gift

sundial_warsawIn our culture how do we primarily mark the passage of time?

  • A year seems an overwhelming increment — until the moment you sit back and wonder where they all went.
  • Weeks and months have their rhythms but those rhythms are subject to disruption, sometimes intentional, other times circumstantial.
  • Seconds and minutes fly by too fast.
  • Hours are rather nebulous. If the metric system were ever to be applied to time, I’ll bet the hour would go through the most radical transformation, likely whittled down from 24 per day to 10.

Ah, did someone say “day”? We mark time primarily by days, don’t we? What is unique about the day is it correspondence with our circadian rhythm. Only the day is demarcated by an activity necessary for survival. That activity is, of course, sleep.  Each day is  back-ended — well, technically front-ended — by a period of restorative sleep — during which the body rests but the mind stays active.

On MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, the host famously marks time in days — counting up the number of days since the Bush administration’s declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq and counting down, originally, the number of days until the 2008 election, and currently the number of days, now in single digits, until the inauguration of Barack Obama as the next U.S. president.

Recently, upon awakening, I began to remind myself to treat the day to come as a gift. Smart move. Whether you prefer to think every day is a gift (137,000 Google results) or each day is a gift (96,000 results), I recommend reminding yourself regularly, at least once a, well, day.

Since I started these reminders, I’ve been able to pull myself out of bed for a short workout on the treadmill. It has paid dividends too — as I long thought it would. I have more energy, my afternoon slump isn’t nearly as pronounced, and I think more clearly. For those of us blessed to have the potential to achieve physical fitness, constantly moving toward that goal is, I’m coming to realize, a pre-requisite for mental fitness.

Alas, there is bit of irony in my usage of the treadmill and its relationship to  marking  time. Listening to my Song Walkman MP3 player — I like to call it my “guyPod” — while using the treadmill has made working out many times less onerous (I’m not at the “pleasurable” point yet). Like each day, the guyPod is itself a gift — from my employer for achieving 20 years of service as of last June. Regrettably, at times during those 20 years I’ve not drawn on my potential to the fullest possible extent — opting instead to let the years — the days  — pass.

I’m convinced had I treated each and every one of those days as a gift, I would have followed more satisfying paths — and found more such paths available for the choosing.

It’s OK, though. Body and mind willing, many more such gifts will come my way. I will continue to remind myself each time one arrives that it is indeed a gift — and hopefully — successfully treat it that way.

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