Today we were given the gift of an extra hour in our day. If today were yesterday, I’d be writing this at 1:05 in the afternoon. Instead, my fingers are touching the keyboard at 12:05. Last night I jokingly said to my kids, “We gain an extra hour tonight, but we aren’t even taking advantage of it.”
“How would we take advantage of it?” my wife asked.
“By going out and getting hammered tonight,” I replied. My college-aged self would have done just that because I’d have an extra hour to sleep it off. Believe it or not, it wasn’t the dumbest thing I said this weekend, but certainly close.
Then my mind went to a dark place, as it sometimes does, and I started to think about what I would do if I was given an extra hour to live. I know that’s a pretty extreme question, but my mind goes to extreme places sometimes.
With only an hour to live, so many things would be off the table. An exotic vacation? Nope. I’d be gone before even getting to the airport. Dinner at my favorite restaurant? No can do, as someone would be screaming, “Is there a doctor in the house?” before the appetizers arrived. Have a cocktail at my favorite watering hole? Well, maybe that one is in contention, but I’d feel bad for Mike the bartender who would have the unenviable task of calling 911 and waiting for paramedics John Gage and Roy DeSoto to arrive while one of his favorite customers codes while slumped over on the bar and Jack, Janet, and Chrissy look on while a hairy man named Larry attempts CPR. Hey, in my imagination it’s the 1970s and the paramedics from Emergency! would get a call to head to the Reagle Beagle in Santa Monica where they’d find a slightly older than middle aged man with a love for strong tequila drinks and an inability to whisper quit the oxygen habit. To save Mike some trouble, and the cast of Three’s Company and Emergency! some unneeded trauma, I should probably spend my last hour differently.
When it comes down to it, I’d want to spend those last sixty minutes with the people I love. I’d want to tell them just how much they mean to me and apologize for any ways in which I’d hurt them over the years. Selfishly, I’d want to feel the love they have for me and maybe hear how I may have made a difference in their lives. I’d also want to know if there was anything I could possibly do in what little time I had remaining to help them somehow.
Imagining what I’d do in my final moments may be a dark place to go on this fine Sunday afternoon while the weather is mild and the sun is out, shining its light on our changing leaves, so maybe I’ll rephrase the question. What would I do if given an extra hour on a regular day? To answer, I need to reflect on the things that bring me joy because, hey, who wants to waste that extra hour on doing something they don’t like? Next, I’d have to ponder not only what I enjoy doing, but what I enjoy doing that I never seem to make enough time for. I figured that out shortly before noon today and, as it turns out, you already know how I decided to spend my extra hour today because you are reading it.
Writing is something that I enjoy doing and recently I have not made enough time for it in my life. While inspiration has come in spurts lately, I haven’t felt like writing regularly ever since my brother passed away in June. My head hasn’t been in the right place and I haven’t been good about doing all those things that help the words come, which typically involves sitting alone in a quiet space, meditating for a bit, and being open to writing whatever comes to mind at the time. Some writers call this “hitting flow,” and, for me, it tends to happen after I’ve been writing for a while. It’s almost as if my conscious mind moves to the off position and the words just start coming. The same phenomena happens to athletes when they are performing “In the zone.” Flow is a gift, but it doesn’t just show up announced like an annoying relative looking to disrupt your day. It has to be invited in. I haven’t been all that good at inviting it in recently, and I know that I need to change that (my new book won’t write itself).
Today I woke up early because, well, I did not go out and get hammered last night. I went to an early mass, made breakfast for two of the kids who were visiting for the weekend, and watched the first women and men cross the finish line of the NYC marathon. Inspired by their athleticism, I decided to go for a run on this mild Fall day. Once I locked into my pace, which was MUCH slower than the women and men who I watched break the tape at mile 26.2 in New York, I started to have this thought—what would I do with an extra hour? Well, I came home and then answered my own question. Now, let me ask you one—what did you do with your extra hour today?