I remember during my last few months of college meeting with the registrar. We talked for a brief moment about our perspective lives and he told me about the conference he had just attended. The topic of which was centered on transcripts and filing; truly riveting stuff.

The brunt of the meeting, however, was about what steps needed to be taken for me to graduate. Only twelve credit hours left, and each class could be electives. All in all, I was in a pretty comfortable place.

On my way out, he stopped me and asked me to fill out one final form. It was a little piece of brightly colored cardstock. He pointed to two lines and said, “The first line, write your name out the way you want it written on your diploma. That will also be the way they pronounce your name on graduation day. The second line is the hometown they will say.”

I sat there, pen in hand, not being able to decide whether I wanted my middle name or initial on my diploma. That’s not to say that I dislike my middle name. It’s a good name, a name I like very well, and yet, I sat there not being able to decide what to write. 

Although, this was less an issue of not knowing what to include on my diploma. Rather, it was in that moment that I realized just how little time I had left.

There is an episode of the television show, Arthur, in which the titled protagonist, an aardvark, makes a list of all things he would like to do over summer vacation. 

However, at the end of summer, he recalls the list and how he had yet to do any of the things he had planned on. Then, becoming disappointed and determined, Arthur spent the rest of the episode attempting to do as many of the activities as he could.

I always had a very bittersweet mix of emotions towards that episode. Even as a child I was bit introspective, and I liked that episode because I could relate to the feeling Arthur was experiencing. 

Every summer, my mother would take me and my brothers out to lunch and we would each pick a few things that we wanted to do in those upcoming months. A few activities always transcended time, and would appear on the list every year, such as going to the zoo. So, I could relate to Arthur’s desire to make use of his free time.

However, I also hated that episode for the exact same reason; I could relate too well. Every summer, with a full list of activities just waiting to be experienced, I would lose track of time and forget. I would go into the next school year thinking about what potential I had wasted. 

I still do the same thing, I still make a lot of plans. I am a New Year’s resolution kind of guy. I think that’s partly due to the fact that I am goal-oriented. I need something to strive for, a project to be working on, or something to be fixed. However, much like Arthur, by the end of the episode, I realize how many things I forfeited due to forgetful distractions. I set out with so many plans, but most of them get relegated to the realm of someday.

I remember, I sat in the registrar’s office thinking about the fact that graduation was just six months away. I thought about all of the plans I had come to college hoping to achieve and live out. I recounted what I had come into senior year hoping and striving for, and what I realized is that much of that was still left undone. 

I only had a limited amount of time to do all that I wanted to do. There were still so many walks to be walked, coffee dates to be had, friendships to be built. Books to be read, movie marathons to be watched, things to learn, and ideas to try out. There were still so many memories to be made. It was the end of the summer, so to speak, and I had still had a list full of activities just waiting to be experienced.

I remember this one time, having a conversation with my grandfather. He and I were talking about books, a topic we talk about often. I remember saying that I just didn’t have the time to read as much as I would like.

He didn’t let more than a second pass before correcting me, “You have the time. We all have the same twenty-four hours, every day. So, you have the time. You just chose to spend that time doing other things.”

My grandpa didn’t let me off the hook when I gave him such a lame excuse. If I was to attribute one piece of wisdom to my grandfather, amidst the many possible adages and proverbs, it would be this;

“We all have the same twenty-four hours.” 

I think that is particularly convicting to me because I’m prone to waste time frivolously, thinking there will be more on the horizon. However, I cannot promise that tomorrow will come for me, or the next day, or the day after. I do know, however, that I have today.

Another thing to note, is that that today will be the last of its kind. Every day is a unique opportunity to live, build, and achieve. However, it is an opportunity that is often wasted and placed in the box of things saved for someday.

I think Arthur had a wonderful reaction to the realization of his wasted summer. He didn’t mourn the past too long, rather he made use of the time he had left. 

I fear that I can get so caught up in what could have been, that I neglect what is and what can be. There is so much potential lost when we focus too heavily on past hypotheticals. I may not have done all that I had set out to do when I first arrived at college, over four years ago. However, at that point, I still had six months left. I still had the time to do some of those things. There was still time. 

The other thing that I believe is an impediment to our goals and plans, is that we’re extremely well intentioned, but also immensely forgetful. We think we have so much time, so we keep putting things off, saying;

“I’ll do that someday…” or “I’ll work out and eat healthy, someday…” or maybe “I’ll go back to school, someday…” or even “I’ll forgive them, someday…”

And on and on the line of reasoning goes.

I don’t think we’re lying to ourselves either. I truly believe we want to do certain things, but it can often seem so unattainable that we continue waiting for someday. However, someday is a place where goals go to die. 

What I mean is that “someday” is a form of procrastination, in which we continue to put off difficult or intimidating projects and goals. Steven Pressfield writes in his book, The War of Art, “The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.”[1]

When we wait for someday, we are buying into the lie of procrastination. Pressfield continues, “Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny.”[2]

I have been awful at making plans in a “someday” mindset, and much like Arthur, I find myself at the end of the episode, or season of my life, and I find that I missed out on some really amazing opportunities.

What Pressfield acknowledges is that we will keep waiting for a time that may never come. We must wise up and see that all we’re doing is wasting time, wasting a life that could be lived fully. We still maintain the power to alter our destinies, but first we have to be willing to stop waiting for someday, and rather, start living today.

In book, Love Does, Bob Goff talks about this very idea. He comments, that we all have desires that we would like to achieve and gain, but we tend to defer this. He notes that we might not get another chance. Thus he argues that the people who wait for someday might “need a change of attitude, not more opportunities.”[3]

In his spoken word piece, “Complainers”, Rudy Francisco talks about the many perceived struggles one may experience in a day. He speaks of the stop-n-go traffic during a daily commute, a bad day at work, disappointment, frustration, tiredness, and much more of the daily happenings that we see all around us. As he drives home the point of little worries and little frustrations, he begins commentating on some of the true tragedies that are being experienced every moment. 

While commenting on the fact that nearly two million people die every year due to dehydration, He says;

“It doesn’t matter if the glass if half full or half empty, there’s water in the cup. Drink it, and stop complaining.” [4]

I think there is some profound truth in that statement. Often, I find myself myopically focused on the problems of this life, of which there are many. However, when we are so focused on the problems we miss the good that this life still has to offer. 

So yes, in the registrar’s office, on that January day, I may have only had six months of college left. While that’s not a lot of time, it’s enough. That was six months of water in my cup, and I chose not to focus on the fact that it’s nearing empty. Rather, I chose to drink it and stop complaining.

We all have the same twenty-four hours each day. That’s not a lot time, which means that we have to be wise in how we spend it.

O. Alan Nobel is a professor of English and literature at Baptist University, as well as the co-founder of Christ and Pop Culture, which is a publication that discuss the intersection between Christ and this world. In an interview on the podcast, OtherWISE, he said this in regard to consumption of;

“I tend to think in terms of an awareness that there is more good, beautiful, and true things available to me than I can possibly participate in. There are more great works of literature than I can ever read… Are you aware of how many great books are in existence? It is obscene… Again, that’s a beautiful thing; that’s a good problem to have. But what it does mean, is that personally have a pretty low tolerance for stuff that I think is not going to be very good… This is sort of true in all mediums… Prioritizing is a weighty issue for me, I think prioritizing is really important. Not just grabbing what’s accessible and easy but recognizing that my life is limited.” [5]

What Dr. Noble is noting is that we need to be aware, not only of ourselves, but also of our time.

One day, my brother, Jonathan, came up to me with a sober look. I asked him if everything was okay. He gave a gentle nod, “I just realized that no matter how many podcasts I listen to a day, or books I read every night, or TV shows I watch in-between, I will never catch-up. I will never see, read, or hear everything I want to.” 

Some might think that’s a somewhat melodramatic response. Although, how astute to realize that we must choose wisely how we spend our time. There will never be enough time to do everything, so we must have an awareness of what is important and what is not.

Walking out of the Registrar’s office, one random Wednesday afternoon, I chose to prioritize my time differently. I opened my eyes to what still remained of college, and I chose to spend that time learning, growing, and becoming better alongside the people I love. 

Did I still miss out on some things that I had planned on? Of course, there is never enough time to do everything. That’s why the decisions we make every day are so important.

To do one thing, you must sacrifice doing something else. 

Although, what I realized that one day, was that there truly is no time like the present. Don’t wait for someday to do everything you could do today. 

We all have the same twenty-four hours. Spend them wisely.

[1]Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, 47716th ed. (Pressfield, Steven, 2012), 22.

[2]Pressfield, 22.

[3]Bob Goff, Love Does,  xiii.

[4]Rudy Francisco, Helium (Minneapolis:Button Poetry, 2017), 93.

[5]Alan Noble, audio conference with Casey Tygrett, Chicago, November 19, 2018. OtherWise Podcast, episode 21. 

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