I’ve been thinking about time more than usual this year. I’ve witnessed my niece go from speaking full sentences to full run-on paragraphs and I realize that in the time she’s learned how language works I’ve been sitting at the same desk. Not that I’m complaining about the desk- it’s a nice one- it’s just that things change differently for you as you get older.
Case in point: we just realized that this is the sixth Christmas in our house. That means that for the majority of the time my wife and I have known each other, we’ve owned a home together. It feels far more recent. This is an interesting exercise to do: where have you spent most of your life? Who have you known for more than half of it? It puts things in perspective.
Google, Facebook and other social networks are trying to automate my year in review. They aren’t doing a very good job, because I don’t always share the most important moments in my life with social networks. The things that shape me aren’t generally captured in photos, but in growth and experience.
On a professional level, the big moment came in January. I spent weeks putting together a special hour-long series on the VLA neighbourhood, colloquially known as “the hood” in Prince George. It was by far the biggest project I’ve ever taken on and I spent nights wracked with self-doubt over how long a pause should last in an interview I was editing. When you start working in journalism you become aware of the editorial control you have over how your audience perceives reality. Breaths and stutters might be just breaths and stutters or they might add resonance and emotion to the words someone is saying. I was a bundle of nerves but now that it’s out in the world I’m incredibly proud to have done it.
In the summer I was given the chance to go to Toronto for some professional development and my wife wisely suggested we seize the chance to visit one of our top-three destinations and spent a week visiting Montreal and Quebec City. It was indulgent and unplanned and full of moments that we’ll remember and treasure. The lesson I took from the whole thing was be willing to indulge in experience even if you haven’t budgeted for it, and budget for the occasional unplanned experience.
Shortly after our return, my grandma Kurjata passed away. Most of the extended family gathered in Dawson Creek to see her off: 101 of us, by the last count. As I wrote at the time, when I was a kid I didn’t think much of these large family gatherings at Christmas or weddings. Today, I see how special it is my grandma and grandpa managed to raise fifteen kids who still wanted to see each other in their adult years. A lot of patience would have been involved… and a lot of love.
During my formative years, every grandkid would get a Christmas gift from grandma: socks and a bit of money. When you’re young the money’s the exciting part, but today I have no memory of what I spent it on. I remember the socks, though. I also remember the hand-addressed cards I would get on my birthday, and I think about the fact that my grandma did that for fifty, sixty, seventy people as time went on. I have a hard time remembering to get birthday cards for about a dozen people in my life. But she took the time to show she cared about each of us individually.
All three of these things comes back to time. The time you spend on things you care about, the time you have left to cross things off your bucket list, the time you take to show people you care. I’m not very good at time management, but I’m hoping I’ll enter 2015 with a better idea of how to spend it wisely.
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