In a high school biology class during a discussion about genetics we began discussing time, more specifically probabilities for longevity based on our phenotypic indicators.  Some in the class expressed a familial history of heart disease, some of grandparents and great grandparents who lived well into their nineties.  Others, like the teacher himself, expressed a plethora of maladies that plagued their families, not the least of which being cancer.  For me, at the time, I knew of two major issues within my lineage, a maternal grandmother who died of some form of reproductive cancer in her forties and a paternal grandfather who died of a massive coronary in his forties.  Together with these issues was mental illness with my mother and among my maternal aunts and uncle, Alzheimer’s.  Paternally it seemed nearly all my father’s siblings had some form of cardiac irregularity.  For me, it would have seemed the writings suggested I, and my siblings, would not likely live to ‘ripe old ages’, but rather be surviving on borrowed time once turning sixty-five or seventy.  With the discussion I saw time, my time, in terms of decades and found it similarly expired.

In nature, with nature’s many creatures we see life spans of varying lengths, dogs live ten or so years, cats as long as twenty and Mayfly lives but one day.  For humans we often think in terms of decades, of living well into our seventies with many beyond.  For humans it would seem so much is accomplished, so many things done in that lifetime, becoming ‘socialized’, educated and for some, married [or not] with kids to raise.  We move on through each day, which turn into weeks, months and years and before long we see decades, we are old and only remnants of our youthful selves.  But is time, is our time, really defined by the revolutions of the earth, by days, weeks, months and years?  What of the Mayfly, does it, in the time we call one day accomplish many of the same things, is theirs not a full lifetime?  I have begun pondering this question, looking at time from varying perspectives, from that of my life and that of others.  Recently I learned I should not be ‘optimistic’ about seeing another Easter, the underlying premise being I will die before the next comes.  Doing the math one surmises I have something less than eleven months.  So now I ask myself, and in some cases others, is my lifetime now measured as all lifetimes?  I wonder, since my presumed twenty or thirty additional years in the absence of cancer are no longer with me, if my time is now aligning more closely with the Mayfly or perhaps with the Tsetse Fly which produces four generations in one of our years?

It is an interesting question because the answer thereto may, perhaps better said, could, influence my behaviors during my time left.  I often hear people say I should create a bucket list, do all, or as many, of all the things I ever dreamt of doing over a lifetime in that time I have left.  I suppose that is one way to look at it, one perspective, perhaps the position of bending the human time-space warp to fit the years into my remaining months.  However, if the time ‘paradigm’ in which I live better aligns with that of the Tsetse fly, do I not face a dilemma of sorts?  On the surface it would seem an obtuse question, but when one lifts the covers off the precept one reveals wherein the dilemma resides.  Back to the Tsetse fly, we, as humans, generally do not equate our lives with those of the fly, we certainly can not create four generations each year, nor, as the cat and dog does, can we produce two generations in a year.  When thinking of time in the terms of the creatures mentioned, one can equate my remaining time with theirs and therein resides the dilemma, the core of the question.  How can I, as a human with a finite time frame, fully interact with those whose life spans are still undetermined, still undefined and with expectations of perhaps additional decades in their futures.

I have recently thought about this and concluded that one of two things is requisite for any form of alignment to occur.  The first option is for those with whom I wish to interact must alter their time paradigms, make time for me in the time I have left, despite all they have in their lives and all that consumes their time.  The second alternative is to decide myself, to abandon those who choose to continue their paradigm without consideration for allocation to me.  In looking at these choices I find the answer to be quite simple really because the only one in control of anyone is the person living their life.  We, as individuals, choose to allocate time as we wish, we make time for people, for doing things and for all those things comprising life.  What another does with their life is beyond another’s control and hence my only alternative is to live my life as I would, live under the paradigm dictated by my disease. While inviting others into that paradigm, it is incumbent upon me to waste little time on their response, on accommodating their choices.  However, and this just comes to mind, is any alignment even necessary, can the living remain so and continue on, pausing as they choose to enter my world?

I’ve learned over time that we all make time for that we most care about, certain things are non-negotiable in our lives.  When it comes to my son, my choices are simple, especially under the current circumstances.  However, when it comes to others, I’ve concluded I can only send the invitation, offer them the opportunity and let them make the choice.  If they choose to participate in my remaining time, then it must be done under that construct and if not, then things will evolve as they might.  It took me some time to work through this, perhaps more than it should, but as this disease descends upon me, as it continually and rapidly deteriorates my ability to function, I have no other choice but to give time to those willing to accept it.  I suppose, in many ways, this is as harsh as the disease itself and certainly not a choice I thought I would ever face.  But over the years one thing I’ve heard many times is that time waits for no one and so it is for me, and for others.

Happy reading, happy thoughts and happy trails.

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