The Gift of Time

Time – such an enigma! In any given day, we can have too much of it, we can be trying to kill it, it can be long on our hands; or it can be too short, and we don’t have enough of it. Singers have addressed it – Paul Simon said “why am I short of attention when all my nights are so long?”, Jim Croce said “If I could save time in a bottle…”, Elton John said “Time on my hands could be time spent with you”…

Movies have been made based purely on the concept of time – I’ll never forget seeing the first Back to the Future film in Sydney, Cape Breton with a group of my friends from the Gaelic College the year it was released. What a great series of movies!

And then there’s Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where time is a completely random concept, depending on which spaceship (or which galaxy!) our heroes happen to be in. For example, in order to get themselves something to eat at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, they had to travel through millions of years, even though that time passed in a heartbeat: “That’s it!” said Zaphod. “I’ve got it. I told the computer to send us to the nearest place to eat, and that’s exactly what it did. Give or take five hundred and twenty-six thousand million years, or whatever…”

That concept of time is perhaps a bit extreme, but, as an aside, the reference does tie in nicely with my previous Blog Post from October of this year, which opened with a discussion on Bob Dylan’s song Blowin’ in the Wind – yes, there is also a reference to that same song in Hitchhiker’s Guide! The computer has been asked to provide the answer to life, the universe, and everything, and the answer that the computer comes up with is forty-two. But although forty-two may have been the answer to life, the universe, and everything, no one seemed to know what the question was, though some suggested the question could possibly have been “how many roads must a man walk down?” Yes, a very loose tie in, but a tie in all the same. Such a loose tie in would never work for a sheepskin bag, but it works for a blog post, I figure. (How’s that for a subtle bagpipe reference, for all my piping friends?!)

But for those of us here on earth who don’t time-travel much, time is slightly easier to measure. The older I get – and I am currently at the centre field line on a Canadian football field – the more conversations I seem find myself in where someone says “I can’t believe how long it’s been since…” or “Can you believe how long ago that was?” … or “Seriously? That was 20 years ago?” In fact, just last night my daughter Robyn and I were watching Merry Christmas Mr. Bean (still one of my all-time favourite shows to watch at this time of year!) and we both remember exactly when and where we were when we first saw it, and how much we laughed at the time. And we still laugh at it! But we agreed that it must have been twenty years ago, because we were in the basement of the Ramsay house, after the wood stove had been put in.

And to continue on that train of thought, here are a few fun “it’s been ____ many years since…” photos:

It’s been twenty-two years since Robyn had this visit with Santa:

How adorable is that, with her missing front tooth and her hand-knitted Rudolph vest?

It was almost twenty-seven years ago that she was just a baby, watching over the kitchen from her perch on top of the table:

And a more recent one – it was four ago that we were enjoying Gluhwein (mit alkohol) in the Christmas markets in Germany!

Twenty-three years ago that I recorded the Seven Rebels track on my “Twist in the Tale” CD with this group of pipers:

(Recognize any of those faces? At least three of those pipers, not including myself, are still very active in the piping community!)

And 12 years ago in January that I moved into the place where I’m still living! Now THAT one is hard to believe. This set of photos shows a before and after of my fireplace, which I painted in October of 2016. The photo on the left shows what the wall looked like when I moved in, in January of 2006 (although the tile work was upgraded a few years back):

It will be five years ago this coming February that I travelled to Los Angeles for my first practice weekend with the LA Scots Pipe Band, at the Queen Mary in Long Beach…

Fifteen years since Robyn started her own piping career! (She’s the one in pink):

And how about this oldie of Seanachie playing a gig in 1996??

Still on the topic of music, this past year I enjoyed being part of the Hamilton Police Pipe Band, under Pipe Major Trish Kirkwood, with whom I played in the Gaelic College Pipe Band some thirty-five years ago:

Forty (gasp!) years ago since I won the Allan B. Beaton Memorial trophy for the grade 1 aggregate at the Antigonish Highland Games:

And finally, two of my favourite photos with my brother, taken fifty years apart:

The point of all of the above is that time passes all too quickly. I think we’re all reminded of that at this time of year in particular, when there are lots of gatherings of friends and family. Inevitably the topic of “how long it’s been since…” will be brought up, and someone will say something like “isn’t it crazy how quickly time passes”. And it does! Here on earth for us humans it doesn’t pass quite as quickly as it does on the spaceship “Heart of Gold” for our friends Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, and the two-headed Zaphod in “Hitchhiker’s Guide”, but it passes quickly regardless.

And it’s a valuable commodity. I was having lunch with a friend the other day, and both of us agreed that wasting time is a luxury that should only be exercised and enjoyed by the person whose time is being wasted. In general, we only waste our own money – I don’t think many of us waste someone else’s money – and nor should we waste someone else’s time. Because at the end of the day, time is exceedingly precious. The older we get, the more we realize that, and the more we realize that what we really want from others most of all is their time.

I’m fortunate enough to have relatives from the generation ahead of mine still alive, and I’m pretty sure that my annual trips to Nova Scotia to visit them are much more important and precious to them than the small gifts I send on birthdays or at this time of year. Similarly, now that my own daughter is an adult, having the pleasure of spending time with her is the best thing she could ever give me, and I’m fortunate she’s so generous with her time. It doesn’t matter if we actually do anything, just hanging out together and chatting about our days, our work, our friends, and our activities is the best gift ever.

Whatever you believe in, and however you choose to celebrate this time of year, I do wish you all the very best, and may you have the luxury of spending some time with people who make you feel better than you otherwise would have felt. Your time is the most precious gift you have to give, and it is the most precious gift to receive from others.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy yourselves! Stay tuned, and, till next time, have good days.


2 thoughts on “The Gift of Time

  1. I too find myself saying those same things Anne. I also find myself saying and doing things my Mom has done and continues to do and I distinctly remember thinking I’d never do these things ….but time passes and it does and that’s OK.
    A very Merry Christmas to you and your family. May the time be sweet, enjoyed and savored.


  2. Marvelous sectiments Ann. It seems that everyone I know of our age group finds that time is running by quicker than when we were younger, but when we look back, it has ALWAYS flown.
    Merry Christmas to you and Robyn, and I love the archival photo of you and your brother; you look like the heirs of a royal family of your own.


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