Those of you who recognize that headline as the famous line uttered by Bill Murray’s character Carl Spackler in the movie “Caddy Shack” are laughing right now, and that is my intention. Otherwise, the beginning of this piece might seem morbid.
See, in his homily a few weeks ago at 11:30 a.m. Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church, Deacon David Marx talked about a website called deathclock.com. It’s a place, he pointed out, where by answering a few simple questions you can find out the exact date when you are going to die.
Everyone I’ve mentioned this to said this is something they would not want to know. I must agree. But I went to the website anyway.
Sept. 10, 2040.
That’s mine. My last day on earth.
And you know what? I’ll take it. In a minute.
That’s 21 years from now, which is a lot longer than I thought I had left. I was thinking maybe 10 years, at best. This date means I’ll make it to 90. Just a couple of months short of 91. Where do I sign?
Still, when I give it a second thought, 21 years is not such a long time. Oh, it is when those 21 years are from 0 to 21. That seems to take forever. Especially those last two or three. I often say when you are 18 or 19 you think 21 is never going to get here. Then the big day comes, and you go out and get drunk. The next day, you wake up and you’re hung over. The next day, you wake up and you’re 30.
When you’re my age, you know all too well that not all spans of 21 years are created equal. The first 21 drag, the second pick up speed, and the third are in high gear. I’m now six years into my fourth set of 21 and, believe me, those six years have flown. All of which makes that prediction on deathclock.com much more sobering.
But only if I think about it, which I rarely do. It’s taken a lot of effort and a lot of practice, but I’ve finally come to a point where I do not live my life in years, or months, or even days. I live it in moments.
In a song called “22,000 Days,” the band The Moody Blues sang, “It’s not a lot, it’s all you got, 22,000 days.”
They arrived at that number by estimating a lifespan of only 60 years. Most of us can expect to live a lot longer than that, but their point is still well taken.
We don’t get a lot of days on earth.
But you know what we do get a lot of?
We get millions and millions of those. And that’s where we should do our living.
When you think about it, a moment exists outside of time. When immersed in a moment — lost in a book or a movie or a loved one’s embrace, rocking a baby to sleep, or rocking out at a concert — time disappears.
I truly believe those moments are little glimpses of Heaven. In fact, I believe that’s what Heaven is, an eternal moment.
The key to experiencing these earthly glimpses of eternal life, is love.
Love takes away thoughts of the past which is filled with regret and thoughts of the future which is filled with worry and allows us to live in the moment which has none of those things.
“The only foe is time,” The Moody Blues sing. They’re right.
And love is its conqueror.
Henry van Dyke, American author and clergyman — a Pennsylvanian by the way — who officiated at the funeral of Mark Twain and was a friend of Helen Keller, says it succinctly and perfectly:
Time is too slow for those who wait,
too swift for those who fear,
too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice,
but for those who love, time is not.
So I got that going for me, too.
We all do.
Which is even nicer.
Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week for Greater Pittston Progress. Look for his blogs online during the week at pittstonprogress.com.