We all have birthdays, anniversaries and milestones – some for ignoring, some for celebrating.
And we have other essential remembrances, like anniversaries of the day something big, or bad, or surprising happened.
Or a seed was planted …
Spring is for planting.
What we plant may grow in ways we never imagined.
So this is it – this one column/diversion – today, not to celebrate 19 laps completed around the track, but to start the next one.
I recall an article my boss posted on our stock room wall. That piece was about the attitude of commissioned retail sales staff just before closing. I’m sure everyone’s experienced the difficulty of finding help in a store just minutes before closing – how eye-contact is avoided, and while the customer really wants to buy, the clock-watching sales staff are avoiding anything that will delay them closing up shop and heading home. The title, ‘Is there a gap in your last lap?’ I was 18 then, so that makes it 52 years ago – and those lessons have stayed with me: the last customer of the day deserves the same attention, service and enthusiasm as the first one, and people who come to you at the last minute aren’t always poor planners, and anyway, they have a need and you can fill it.
Those principles resonated then and still manifest in my staying a little late at work, making one more call, or sending off one more piece of mail. It’s about finishing things better and starting new ones – no matter when it is late in the day, end of the week, or in some late chapter in life – with energy and willfulness.
Ironically, yesterday was more than that last day of winter. It was the last day of my 19th year writing this column – it was ‘visit my doctor day’ to review some blood work and renew some prescriptions. The discussion around a couple of issues being watched is, I was told, not just things I can fix with better diet and exercise (vital as they are), but that getting older means some of our organs and systems are tired, and changes are natural parts of aging. I’ve got a sharp new doctor, that’s for sure, and she’s taking good care of me while giving advice, wise beyond her years.
Everywhere we look, advice is available and flows to us whether we like it or not; it is a mix of truth, fiction, guesswork and science – all in need of filtering, reflection, judgement, and lifestyle decisions – so we each choose what we make of each day. We can create a new beginning of something or tie up some loose ends. We can make a splash or slip away without a whimper. We are born to live, but there is no guarantee or how well or how long.
It’s a tweak on an old cliché, yet worth repeating: the value of life is not about where you start; it’s about whether you finish.
Yesterday was a pause for reflection. Today is a day to start a new race, another lap around the sun, another first day of spring and a reminder to have fun. A reminder to make the last task in the day as important as the first.
20 years ago, the first words of the first Musings column reached out to a small cadre of readers – over the years, many have come and gone. To every reader who has read any of those 6,940 columns, stay tuned for 365 more. Thank you so much for your time and attention. Your support and validation lift me higher than you might ever know – and in my low moments, you sustain me with your kindness and friendship.
Happy spring, everyone!
p.s. – twenty years ago today, on the first day of spring 1993, I published my first Musing column. I was showing off to my daughter and sharing those thoughts with 6 friends, and my quest for their approval never ends …
Good morning Mark, Congratulations on the first nineteen years of Musings: I’m looking forward to the next 19 years of reading what’s on your mind—whether it’s philosophical, political, word play, or a dose of honest reality. You share it all. Musings is far from mundane or typical—much like its author—and I think I will not be alone in saying please don’t stop. Without question, you need water, you need oxygen, and you need to write, HM, Calgary, AB
I understand your compelling need to write. I have kept a journal since I was 15 years old. Yes, that’s a lot of journals. My writing helps me get through the tough times in my life and helps me better understand the world and my place in it. Keep writing Mark. I look forward to reading your column every day, IT, Calgary, AB