So often, I just let life happen; I go from one task to another, one phone call to the next, one meal at a time from the fridge to the table. No thought. No planning. Just living one minute to the next .... I heard a saying once that haunts my mind every time I reach the whirlwind finish of another year.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I would add, “If you make a plan and don’t carry it out, you are living in a fantasy world where anything can happen – but nothing of importance ever does.”

The words of the old hymn, “Time flies on wings of lightning, you cannot call it back,” ring with a certain pathos where I am concerned. I am still working on what happened to 2010, and the world is lifting the curtains on 2015. Where did it go?

The words from Fiddler on the Roof have become my theme song. “Where is the little girl I carried? Where is the little boy at play? I don’t remember growing older. When did they? Sunrise, sunset; Sunrise, sunset, one season following another laden with happiness and tears ...”

The baby I raised from a 9-month-old is now 27 and has four children of his own. They toddle around and jabber the way he used to do. His son looks just like him, and I almost forget that he is not my little boy of so long ago.


The last of my adopted children are ready to fly the nest, and my grandchildren number in the 30s. I often lament, “Who sped up the clock?” I don’t feel any older – except when I look in the mirror and see my mother and grandmother staring back at me.

With my brother’s death in August, I came face to face with the unhappy question, “How much time do I have left?” My brother certainly planned to have a longer life, but in an instant he was called home.

That final moment is not like coming to the end-of-the-year evaluation where you take “stock of what you have and what you haven’t.” (Annie Get Your Gun). At the end of the year, you have time to start again and do a better job.

But the end of life? That’s way different. It is summing up all the good and bad in your life and weighing them against how you used your time. The paramount question is not, “Have I succeeded?” but “Have I left anything of value in my treasure chest of life? Will my legacy have made a lasting difference in the lives of my family and the world?”

When the last day comes, it is finished. No chance to do it all over again. No chance to make amends or re-stack the deck for another game. It’s over. The last act. The final curtain.

So the question isn’t, “What are my resolutions for 2015?” The question is, “What contributions can I make that will last beyond my passing? What can I do in the cramped-up days of the new year that will make a difference to my family in years to come?”

Time is the key that unlocks the secrets of the future. They say we spend time on what we value. That is true to a certain extent. We spend time on what we allow ourselves to think about. For example, we might value time with our family, but we don’t take time to think about what we value, so we spend time slipping down the path of least resistance.

For example, we watch TV because we haven’t planned anything better to do. We mindlessly flip though the channels seeing what is on. We habitually get disgusted by the news and have an angry conversation about politicians and world events.

We pontificate on how we would run things if we were in the government, but solutions are easy from the easy chair. We may value our family, but we spend our time on what is convenient because we fail to plan.

We might not choose to watch TV, but Facebook is our outlet. We have a million friends, but we never really get to know any of them face-to-face. We get to know the face they paint, and they get to know our painted self.

We spend hours stamping our “likes and dislikes” on the daily posts of others and drop an opinion here and there, but we really never get around to making meaningful honest posts about our own lives.

We watch the YouTube videos and laugh or get disgusted, but we really never make a video of our own. Oh, we plan to someday. We plan to do something really great, someday, but there is a big difference between the blueprint and the building. That is the difference between fantasy and reality.

Memories, like monuments, need to be planned and executed with precision. If we want to have grand memories in the future, we must plan to live grand events today. What are grand events? They are anything you want them to be.

What do you want to remember when you are sitting before the dying embers in your grandparent chair? What do you want to play on the instant replay of your mind? Is it the moment you posted the trillionth “like” on your Facebook page, or is it when you snuggled with your child over a storybook or took a wilderness hike with your teenage son or daughter?

Is it the time you watched your favorite actor destroy a city in the latest movie, or will it be when you saw your wife’s smile when you washed the dishes or brought her flowers? Will it be a glowing candlelight dinner or a pizza in front of the TV?

Will it be when you were the high school baseball star or when you taught your child to pitch and he or she became the star? Will you get more joy from a text message or a face-to-face encounter? That is the wonderful thing about choices. You get to choose.

I am sitting in the grandma chair. I still have some time left. Who knows how much? I am taking stock of my memories. There have been some monumental memories that take my breath away to recall them. It is interesting: None of my glorious memories have been in front of the TV, on the computer or a cell phone. My best memories have been with people I love.

My childhood memories include camping trips, wood-gathering projects, weeding the garden with my mother, hiking the Grand Canyon or sailing down the Colorado River with my friends. My memories include face-to-face and heart-to-heart communication with my friends and family members.

I am so glad I didn’t have a technological device to stand in the way of those moments because those moments changed my life and often the lives of the ones I loved.

Then there were the journeys I made in the minds of the great writers. The books they wrote made such a difference in the choices that I made in my life. I systematically chose literature that could build and enhance my mind. The scriptures were always a big part of my reading menu. I am so glad because I got to know Jesus through my reading, prayer and acting on the promptings I received.

Of course, many of my choices were spent sliding down the path of least resistance. I didn’t always plan my memories, and I have regrets. That’s how I know that “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

You may not know you have failed until years later. You may be sitting in the grandparent chair sorting though memories before you realize that texting across the dinner table, watching the latest movies and eating pizza in front of the TV with your kids really wasn’t the path to true happiness.

You might even wish you had spent a few more days really walking in the forest of nature and listening to the heart talk of your children and your spouse.

In the beginning days of 2015, write down some memories you would like to enjoy at the beginning of 2016. You will be surprised how many of them come to pass. Of course, you must work the plan; otherwise it is a fantasy waiting to happen. PD

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