Some Thoughts on the Value of Time

Last month, my son started college.

Last Monday, I had emergency oral surgery.

Three hours ago, I talked on the phone with my brother.

These things may seem unrelated, but (like many things) the connection behind the scenes goes deeper than the surface facts suggest.

I’ve spent this week doing little-to-nothing, recovering from the surgery. “Little-to-nothing” leaves lots of room for thought. Among those thoughts: the value of time.

Most of us don’t know how much time we have, but spend a lot of it worrying and complaining about the fact we don’t have enough. We multitask. We procrastinate.

And, more often than not, we shortchange the people and things that deserve our time the most.

Over the summer, I often put off work on the next Shinobi Mystery to go for walks and spend family time with my husband and my son. Despite the looming deadline, I decided it was important to build some memories before my son left home for his college years. I didn’t want to look back on those months and wish I’d spent more time with him – and, in hindsight, I made the right decision.

This morning, my brother mentioned how much time he’s spending helping his kids with their homework and reading with them in the evening hours. We talked about our parents (our mom still around and an awesome part of our lives, our dad now gone) and memories of the time we spent with them in our younger years.

The phone call made me think about my son, and all the time I’ve spent deliberately building his memories over the years. Family dinners. Weekend barbecues. Midnight doughnut runs and cookie baking.

Weaving through those thoughts, the advice my agent gave me when my debut novel sold in a three-book deal: “Enjoy the process.”

It’s as true of life, and time, as it is of books.

I don’t regret a minute of the extra time I spend with my son, my friends, and my family. I don’t regret the hours spent writing books. I don’t regret the decision to blog, or the time it takes to put these words on the screen – and the reason for that lack of regret is simple.

I’m taking the time to realize the value of time itself. I’m trying hard to keep it in perspective. When I find myself tempted to put off something truly important because “I don’t have time,” I’m trying hard to remember to re-evaluate that statement in terms of the larger picture.

I still might not “have” time, but, increasingly, I’m willing to make the important things happen anyway.

The time, and the memories, are too valuable not to.

Have you taken the time to show someone how much you care about them today? Have you taken the time to care about yourself?