Sadly, you cannot make up for lost time.
We are a year removed since what we called normal life ceased.
A full year. 12 months. 365 days.
COVID has directly and indirectly changed the trajectory of 10s of millions of lives — all in the span of a single year.
The announcement from the President last week that all Americans would have access to the vaccine staring May 1 resulted in an interesting tableau of reactions.
Social timelines were soon filled with exuberant proclamations about making up for lost time.
“Making up for lost time” is an interesting phrase. It’s a phrase and a mindset that plays into a false sense of pleasure and possibility.
If something is lost, the implication is that it can potentially be found. Operatively, this rule requires that the thing that is lost is tangible. Car keys, for example, are tangible items and get lost and found all the time.
Time on the other hand is not exactly tangible. Although, it is ever present and always before us. Time is seemingly always moving. And, observationally, moving in a linear direction.
If you are a quantum physicist, I beg your pardon for this writing on time. But know, I chose the words, “it is ever present and always before us” as an acceptance of quantum theory of time and the notion of entanglement and equilibrium.
Many are describing the COVID year as “lost time”. People use this phrase as handy shorthand to explain what they could not do; the things that typically filled their time before.
Thus, making up for lost time means what? Reverting back to the state of how we used our time pre-COVID? That’s not what I hear and that’s not what people mean. I hear and I think people mean that they will attempt to fit in more time with friends, more vacation, more going to restaurants and concerts; just more in the same finite allotment of time.
Is that even possible? And to what end?
Will doing this make us happier?
But that pleasure will be fleeting. It will not last.
15 years ago, I faced this internal dilemma.
The life I had for 12 years was not much of a life. It was riddled with anxiety and waning ebbs of depression. Addiction ruled and kept me from realizing any potential. After 5 months in jail and 3 months in a sober home, I was getting anxious about my future. A part-time job at a radio station and a Groundhog Day series of 12-step meetings wasn’t enough.
In a conversation with a mentor and 12-step sponsor, I stated that the 12 years that led up to this moment was wasted time. And the months passing now are just adding to that landfill.
I can be dramatic.
With absolute calm and conviction, my mentor said to me:
“You cannot make up for lost time; you can only make good with the time before you.”
You can only make good with the time before you.
If you think that the last year robbed you of something that was yours to begin with, then you will seek to make up for that time.
If you think that whatever time has passed is no longer available, then you will seek higher, greater uses of your available time going forward.
It took me a while to hear the words “make good” with your time. That phrase creates a bidirectional, nay multi-directional, orientation of time (quantum physics is seeping in). Making good of time could be for my own benefit, for the sole benefit of another, or for the mutual benefit of others and myself.
Making good with time before us also implies intentionality and deliberation. If I’m just making up for lost time, I’ve chosen some thing from the past that may have been good for me then, but is it really good for me now or in the future? Is it good for others now or in the future?
Making good with the time before us requires an understanding of both the allocation of time and the benefit of action.
This understanding aligns perfectly with one of my personal principles: Everything in life is an equation; work the equation.
Time and benefit are always part of the equation.
If returning to restaurant dining every week with friends and family is making good with the time before you — do it. But if you’re going out just to go out … maybe reconsider the equation.
How will you make good with the time before you?
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