Nothing But Time

This Christmas was an orgy of gift giving and receiving. My son got a dirt bike. My daughter, an i-pod. Everyone was thrilled. The real fun, however, came not from the gifts, but from the down time we spent together.

If your schedule is anything like mine, you seldom have the freedom to “fat around.” Between my work schedule and my kids’ activities, we spend more time running around together than sitting still and enjoying one another’s company. In fact, some of my favorite conversations with them take place in the car en route to school or band or basketball. This Christmas, we had time to sit still. And it was great.

My daughter and I sketched together for hours. My son and I went for a leisurely walk. My parents, sisters, brothers-in-law and I traded old stories and bottles of wine. And I did yoga until I was absolutely sore.

So often it’s the intangibles in life that truly give us pleasure. It’s not the games we play, it’s the laughter and camaraderie they bring us. It’s not the books we read, but the feelings they emote. It’s not the music we hear, but the dance it inspires.

When you think about it, we have nothing in life but experiences. After all, what good is a career if it doesn’t make you happy? What’s the point of a home except to provide shelter? What’s the purpose of a car except where it can take you? What we do, where we go, how we spend our time defines what our lives hold.

When I was a kid, all I wanted to do with my time was draw, write, laugh and play with my friends. As an adult, I’m finding my desires haven’t changed. Luckily, my career allows me to do many of those things every day. But as I prepare for 2006, I look forward to fulfilling more of those desires – to embracing the great intangibles of life. I’ll try to remember that it’s the hole in the vase that makes it useful. It’s the space in the window that opens to the world. And it’s the empty hours that, if we let them, allow us to be truly full.