Time Is Short and Precious

We all know that our time on Earth is limited. Life is precious and time is short. Sometimes when we are living with a chronic illness, life instead feels long and painful. Arg. But it’s important to remember and appreciate the gift of living, even when it isn’t always an easy or pleasant experience.

Maximizing my time

I often feel pressure to maximize my time, to make a difference with the life I have been given. Like anything, this can be taken too far to extremes. But the idea of using my time well and making my life count helps to give me meaning and purpose. This is especially important on days when I’m struggling with rheumatoid arthritis pain and limitations. I may not understand why I have this disease, but I can create meaning out of my life and use my time well.

How to spend my time and energy

Another aspect of appreciating life is to really consider how I want to spend my time and energy. Sure, we all have chores that we don’t enjoy doing. And we have commitments and responsibilities. But we do have a lot of choice about how we spend our time and with whom. Isn’t it better to dedicate our limited time and energy to people and activities that provide us with pleasure or value in some way?

While I work hard, I am also fortunate to have a job I really like. In my free time, I purposefully spend it volunteering for groups that matter to me and with family and friends who I enjoy. It takes practice and effort, but I really try to intentionally think about and make decisions to spend my time in ways that are important to me. Sometimes it’s an accumulation of little choices, other times it is really considering carefully the big choices.

But life isn’t all about work, right? As Ferris Bueller said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” Basically, there’s a danger in always being busy and not stopping to smell the roses.

One of the great lessons from the movie “Ferris Buller’s Day Off” is how he doesn’t plan out his day, but instead takes a meandering journey through a number of adventures. Ferris is having fun by skipping school, but he is also open to the unexpected joys of life. Taking a day off for him means spending time with friends, exploring his home city, and defeating those out to spoil his good-natured fun.

I don’t think you have to skip responsibilities to enjoy life. It can be as simple as stopping to smell the roses. This makes me laugh because my husband and I moved recently. We now take walks in a lovely courtyard and I always insist on stopping to smell roses on a couple rose bushes. Each one is unique—some bigger or smaller, some more fragrant than others. But I wouldn’t know if I hadn’t taken a precious moment to notice the beautiful rose bushes and stop to sniff them on our walks.

Living with RA can place a lot of burdens on our time and energy—from following treatment regimens, visits to doctors, long waits in waiting rooms. But we can’t lose sight of using our time well, in ways that we appreciate and enjoy. Sometimes it may take more effort than we would like, but it’s important to take time for ourselves and enjoy these precious moments well.

It’s really easy to get lost in our RA aches and pains. It may be hard work, but we can also enjoy the gift of time with those we love.

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