Monday, June 4, 2012


If a person lives to age 75, they will be entrusted with approximately 27,375 days. There are a variety of ways that people look at their 27,375. Some look at that number and think, "That is a lot of days." Not giving much thought at all to the reality that every day one more day is subtracted from the "yet to be lived" column. Others think that 27,375 is such a large number that they really have no need to be thoughtful about how those days are used. Some people only give consideration to their 27,375 once the remaining number gets very small. Oddly enough, I do not know of anyone who has consistently been mindful of using each of the 27,375 to the fullest and best.

Perhaps it is a bit Pollyanna-ish to think that anyone would devote the time and energy to monitoring the use of their time to that level of detail. It might seem absurd to live a life that is so structured that every day is fully deployed for the greatest good. After all, we still have to do chores and go to work and change diapers and clean up after supper. Then there is the newest episode of the XYZ Show and who could stand to miss this game or that.

Every Sunday I read the obituaries in the Star Tribune. Not because of some morbid curiosity, but to remind myself that life is fleeting and many times the end of earthly life comes without much warning. Death is a certainty. A couple of weeks ago I was struck by this reality again as it seemed that many of the obituaries were for people around my age. I am not surprised to read of people in their 80's who have passed on, but there seemed to be a disproportionate number of people in their mid-50's and it caught my eye. It brought me back to this issue of how I am using/investing the days that I have been entrusted with. And not even on some grand "save the world" kind of level, but even more on the mundane and daily level. Do the things that I am doing for work produce value and good for those whom I am serving? Am I treating my co-workers and clients in redemptive and encouraging ways? Am I taking the time for that quick conversation out in the yard that is what neighbors do? Are the things that I am doing for recreation truly restorative and refreshing? Are the things that I am reading sharpening my mind and making me think deeper thoughts? Am I investing my 27,375 (or the 8,000 or so remaining) or just using them?

This has not been an easy exercise because it requires a mental diligence and tenacity that I find tiring these days. Then again, floating downstream is always the easy way to go. All too often I find myself having "wasted" a day or a week without realizing what has happened. I have been busy working, doing tasks, and passing the time, but for what value? During June, I am trying an experiment. At the end of each day I am pausing to assess whether the day was used well or wasted. Not a detailed analysis, but a basic thumbs-up or thumbs-down. My hope is that this discipline will help me to make those assessments more in real time--do I spend the next hour doing X or doing Y? My expectation is that I will find the first part of the month to be disappointing. I will be confronted with my shallowness and self-absorption. With my lack of considered and thoughtful investment of a non-renewable resource. With a sense of spinning my wheels.

At the same time, it is my hope that by the end of June I will begin to offload that which is not helping me to manage what remains of my 27,375 in godly and others-serving ways. It may be possessions, or interests, or patterns of thinking and living. I just don't yet know. But I am rather excited about the journey of discovery. If a different way of using the next 26 makes the remainder of my 27,375 better, then it will be 26 that are invested well.

Pressing on,