Have you ever heard of a Charity for Time?

Have you ever thought about the idea of a “charity” for time? What would one of these be like if one did exist? We have charities for people who are down on their money and charitable organizations that provide meals and other non-profit services. What if we had charities for people who needed time? I suppose when people volunteer their time as for Habitat for Humanity, it is a form of time charity. Wikipedia has the following to say about the word charity:

“The word “charity” entered the English language through the Old French word “charité” which was derived from the Latin “caritas”. Originally, in Latin the word caritas meant preciousness, dearness, high price. From this, in Christian theology, caritas became the standard Latin translation for the Greek word agapē, meaning an unlimited loving-kindness to all others.”

The thoughts contained in this definition are very beautiful: Preciousness, dearness, kindness, can you think of any better words to describe a donation of ones time. Sometimes, we hear the word “pro-bono” applied to a donation of time by lawyers and consultants. Again, in Wikipedia we find the following:

“Pro-bono publico (often shortened to pro bono) is a phrase derived from Latin meaning “for the public good”. It is used to designate legal or other professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment.”

We can find many examples of people and organizations volunteering their time through some form of official channel, but we still do not find structured “charities for time” where anyone can go who needs time. A time charity could either lend you time or ask you to replace any time borrowed with a commitment of your own time at a later date. If you simply needed your lawn cut and did not have time to do it, you would call the “time charity” and say “I need some time.” The exchange would not involve money, but rather a simple donation or exchange of time later. In a society where time is so short and precious, it would be interesting to see some group who could coordinate on a large scale the donations of time.

Have you ever needed time and not had enough money to buy help? Would you volunteer to be a member of a time charity if you could repay the time given later? Can you think of anything better to donate than time? Is money as good a donation as time? Do you volunteer your time now as well as your money to help others?

Why do Americans score so poorly in the time spent on their children?

Parenting time is increasingly scarce in today’s world. With global competition fueling longer working hours and dual career families, it becomes very difficult to find the time to spend with our children. Parenting time (as the experts suggest) should be quality time and this means more than just sitting in front of a TV or a movie with our children. It means interacting with them in a meaningful way.

The definition of a parent is someone who begets or gives birth to a child or someone who is the guardian of a child and looks out for their best interests. Part of a child’s best interests comes from regular interaction with a parent, teacher or role model. Parents teach children by example the lessons they need to be successful in life. Much of this takes place vicariously but some takes place in the form of stories, lessons, lectures, sayings, family traditions and family interaction. Some recent studies have cast doubts on the quality of life for children being raised in the U.S. and Great Britain. A UNICEF study of 21 of the most highly developed countries in the world rated the quality of life for children in the U.S as next to last. Only Great Britain scored worse. How is it that in the most powerful and most economically developed nation in the world, children can not find a good place to grow up? Are we all so busy that we have no time for our children? Is work and growing an economy only done at the expense of the young?

The report noted: “Where Britain and America really score badly, however, is in the categories of relationships and risky behavior. British and American children apparently spend less time (and eat fewer meals) with their parents, compared with the other countries, and seem to be somewhat less happy with their friends and in school (The Economist, Feb 14th 2007). The evidence suggests then that time is the most critical variable. However, how can we have time for our kids, when we are too busy earning money to spend on them? It is a bit of a paradox. American children probably have more toys than any children in the world. The UNICEF study suggests it is not toys they want but time.

Do you spend time with you children each day? Do you make sure you have quality time with your children and meaningful interaction? Are you a role model for your children or do you teach them to “do as I say and not as I do?” Do you think your children will grow up and want to be the same kind of parent you were for them? If not, why not?

Are you a hero? What is a hero?

No time for heroes- In an article by Bernie Reeves (May 2001), he writes: “Yet, even the most decorated veterans of the World War II era make it clear that they did not set out to become heroes, they just did their job. Heroes, it seems, are not born but created by events. And the events have to be interpreted in the right light to qualify for hero creation.” We have seen periods in history where heroes were laughed at as romantic fools and other periods where the lack of heroes was bemoaned. Since 911, it seems that we are on the upswing, with heroism being lauded practically daily in the news or TV media. We have seen anti-heroes, superheroes, cowards who become heroes and people for whom heroism is a part of their daily job. At one point, a hero was anyone who risked their life to save others when they were under no obligation to do so. We did not think of a hero or heroine as someone “just” doing their job. Today though, doctors, soldiers, nurses, fire-people and police are all hailed as heroes. There was a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson called “Richard Cory” in which everyone admired and envied the dapper and suave Mr. Cory.

In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us with that we were in his place,

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Dr. Ossian Sweet, (1905-1960) an African American man who stood up for what he believed and was a hero by any stretch of the imagination said: “I have to die a man or live a coward.” Dr. Sweet tried his hand at politics, running four times and losing each time. He married his childhood sweetheart but divorced and remarried; the second also ending in divorce. In 1960, after years of ill health and depression, he was found dead, a bullet through his head and a revolver in his hand. It is tough work being a hero.

We admire heroes and heroines and the world is a better place because of them. We each wonder in our hearts when we hear about some heroic episode what we would have done. Would we have just stood there watching or would we have run into the burning house, jumped into the icy pond or charged the raging bull. I hope that our world will always have a time for heroes and heroines and not make a mockery of their bravery by downgrading it to merely living. People who become heroes and heroines may not be any different from the rest of us, but in that one second where they act and behave differently and thereby challenge the status quo, it forever puts them in a new league. They may never be able to live up to the expectations that attend their heroism but we should all be forever grateful to them for those few seconds of action. Heroes and heroines show us a world that could be when selfishness and greed are cast aside for love and loyalty.

Where do heroes/heroines get the time? Where do they get the courage? How many of us would risk our lives for an idea, for someone we did not know, for a principle that most people would hate us for upholding? Are we all heroes for going about our daily lives and trying to live the best we can? Or should the label be reserved for those special men and women who put their lives on the line at a time when most of the rest of the world will just stand by watching?

What about stages for time as we age?

Autumn – We have talked about fall and autumn as seasons and what that brings, but what about the autumn of our lives? When does that start? What would the seasons of our lives bring us? The winter, summer, spring and fall of life. In terms of years, lest us say that spring is 0-25, summer is 25-50, fall is 50-75 and winter is 75-100? If so, I am right in the center of the fall of my life. Will the fall of life be anything like the fall season? Will my skin change color and my hair fall out? I think my hair fell out about 25 years ago, sometime in my summer.

Physically, my body is not getting any better and my joints and muscles ache a whole lot more than they used to. Emotionally, I am now more stable, less volatile, more predictable, and less anxious about life. Spiritually, I can see more value in peace, harmony and the various virtues such as love, humility, patience and kindness. I would like to say that I feel more satisfied with myself in these areas and less prone to attack or defend myself against perceived slights. Are these conditions consistent with the autumn of our lives?

Where is the Piagetian scale for what happens to us after 25 years of age? Piaget described the following stages of development:

1.Sensor-motor stage: from birth to age 2 years (children experience the world through movement and senses and learn object permanence)

2.Preoperational stage: from ages 2 to 7 (acquisition of motor skills)

3.Concrete operational stage: from ages 7 to 11 (children begin to think logically about concrete events)

4.Formal operational stage: after age 11 (development of abstract reasoning.

Thats it folks! There are no stages for us as we grow through the summer, autumn and winter of our lives! Here is an opportunity for a new scale. It could even lead to a book on “The Stages of Aging.” Perhaps, the autumn and winter of our lives have similar crisis points that we all share in common in terms of spiritual, emotional, mental and physical development. I suspect there are common stages we will all progress through and that our developmental stages do not end at age 11 or even age 25.

We will all continue to face new challenges and new opportunities for growth.The autumn of our lives will see us cast off some of the old and used leafs and prepare for new growth that will inevitably come. What season of life are you in? What leafs do you need to get rid of? What new growth do you think awaits you?

I have to make up some time today. Can we really make up time?

Making up time! It’s very frustrating to try and make up time. We try to make up time when we have spent too much time on one task and then have several other tasks to complete. Like a game of follow the leader, we rush to make up time just as when we get too far behind the leader. If you have ever ridden in a group of motorcycles, you know this phenomenon very well. The farther you get behind the pack, the faster you must go to catch up. If you are a slower rider, you alternate between getting behind and then hurrying to catch up again to the pack. For many of us, life can seem like a big game of “catch up” because we are forever getting behind and having to catch up again. Can we make up the time we have lost?

When the plane leaves the gate late, will it make up enough time in flight to get us to our next flight or appointment on time? Can I make up the time I lost this morning by driving a little faster or taking a shortcut to work? What can I cut out or cut down on today to make up the time I need for that project that is due Monday? We are constantly trying to figure out how to make up time. What if you had a big box of “make up time?” Whenever you got behind, instead of rushing and strategizing, you would only need to go to your box of “make up time” and take out how much you needed. It would sure make our lives less crazy.

I wonder how many days “making up” time takes off our lives in terms of added stress and worry. What if you said: “The hell with making up time, I will resolve never to worry about making up time again?” This could be harder to stick to than a diet. Maybe such a resolution would help, maybe it would not. It might just create another source of stress in your life. Nevertheless, I think it helps to look at the “cost” of making up time. It is never free.

Are you continually making up time in your daily life? Does it create stress and panic for you? How could you manage your life so that you did not need to make up so much time? What would be different about your life if you did?

How can we help our children avoid our mistakes?

“Sunrise, Sunset, swiftly flow the days, one season following another, laden with happiness and tears.” If you have seen the play or movie “Fiddler on the Roof” you are familiar with this song. I recently went to a wedding where they used this song as part of the ceremony. It is a very poignant song that brings reflection to our lives and our children’s lives. The words tell the story of growth, aging, change and separation. Tevye wonders as all parents do:

What words of wisdom can I give them?
How can I help to ease their way?

If only our children would follow our advice and heed the lessons we have tried to teach them. We want to help them to avoid the errors we have made and keep them safe from the pain and disappointments we have faced. We might be able to do this if we could stop time, keep them home with us and never let them grow up, but that is not to be. We know in our hearts that our children, like ourselves, must find their own way and suffer their own mistakes. They must go out and face the world. We must watch as they grow older and hope that we have prepared them to avoid at least some of the many traps we fell into.

The happy part of Tevye’s song is also the sad part. We must watch as they grow from children to adults and separate from us by finding their own lives. All things change and all things stay the same. Our children are a reflection of us and yet they are unique. As time passes, they will become more like us and yet they will also become less like us. Their histories will become their own and their destinies will follow very different paths then those we chose or perhaps hoped they would choose. We know that eventually they will face tears and that is the hardest part for us to accept. Would there was someway to protect them from that, but it is not to be. Life brings both joy and sorrow and we are yoked together with our children in these events. For better or worse, their joys and sufferings will be our joys and sufferings.

What words of wisdom do you want your children to follow? What teachings that you gave them were the most important? What do you most hope they will listen to in the years ahead? What do you wish you could go back and change? Perhaps it is not too late. We can always keep trying to make a difference in the lives of our loved ones. Sometimes we will succeed. You only fail when you quit trying.

The secret to never running out of time!

I ran out of time today. How many times have you run out of time when you were not even running? The clock seems to be relentless. No matter how fast or how slow we run, the clock just keeps going at its steady inexorable pace. It never falters or stumbles. We get sidetracked, delayed, circumvented, lost, confused, ignored, blocked and snowed in but the clock just keeps on ticking. I run out of time several times each day. If only we could turn the clock back when we needed to or slow it down somehow. But the clock is relentless and it holds us to whatever schedule is in our heads. I have to get to school soon and I only have twenty minutes but five things to do first. I have to get to work but I only have 45 minutes and I have to stop for gas. Can I make it? Will I run out of time?

Is there a secret to not running out of time? What if I buy the latest book on time management? Will it help me to find ways to avoid running out of time? Is there anyone who never runs out of time? Am I a hero or fool for trying to beat the clock as much as I do. If I could only get one more task done! Can I do it? Probably not, but I will try anyway. Oops, I just ran out of time, got to go to school now. Can you finish this for me? Can you tell the world how to avoid running out of time? Do you have time to help me? No! You just ran out of time too?

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