With the official end of summer quickly approaching, I want to share a couple of important lessons that were reinforced for me over the past three months. These lessons are represented by two key words – treasure and measure.
As most of you know, one of our longest serving faculty members, Liz Meadows, fought for her life over the summer. Battling a staph infection and a defective heart valve, Liz mustered all of her considerable energy to overcome this medical challenge. Many of us followed her battle closely; and now that she is on the mend, we are grateful that she will continue to have a positive impact on our community. But, because of the seriousness of her condition and the degree to which I treasure Liz as a professional and a person, I – and perhaps many of you – was compelled to stop and think about the people I treasure. I was reminded how precious life is and how important it is for all of us to take care of the relationships that we treasure. For me, it is a lesson well learned.
Of course, it is unfortunate that our lives become so busy that it takes a medical crisis to slow us down; still, slowing down is important. This is the second lesson that hit home with me as I celebrated my 55th birthday in early August. Now that I qualify for senior discount movie tickets, I realize that The Rolling Stones’ song about time being on my side does not apply anymore. Based on statistics, my life expectancy in Cobb County is 78. It could be worse; if I lived in the county in which my mom was born, Warren, my life expectancy would be 69. But, given that I live in Cobb, I have lived 71% of my life, statistically speaking. I have just over 12 million minutes remaining. I understand this sounds morbid, but it leads to a very important question… In what do I want to invest my time? The answer is clear for me: first, in the people that matter most; and second, in the personal and professional pursuits that are most meaningful.
Time, it turns out, is our most valuable and finite commodity; if we waste it, we cannot get it back. Thus, we must slow down, measure our time, be purposeful about how we use it. Ned Hallowell, in his book Crazy Busy, captures the importance of measuring time: “If we want to live life fully and get the most out of the short lives we have, we would do best to slow down… Otherwise, we will bulldoze over life’s best moments and miss the chance to transform the mundane into the extraordinary.”
As the new school year begins, I look forward to slowing down and enjoying those moments in which the mundane is transformed into the extraordinary. And knowing that the 97,200 minutes of this school year will be well treasured and measured.