Even if you’re not a New Year’s resolution kind of person, it’s hard to escape this time of year without some self reflection. This morning I was appreciating every inch of my 6’4″ stature as I was awkwardly cutting the cheeks of stretcher tenons at eye height. This afternoon I was pushing a wheelchair and helping my disabled mother get an ID card at the DMV.
“People say these are the golden years,” she joked, “when really they’re just rusty.”
Sometimes when I’m with my mother I worry a little that I’m sneaking a peek at my own future. Given how long my dad and grandfather lived, I’m well past middle age already. I should have had my crisis by now. Maybe I have, but instead of a sports car I bought hand planes.
There are always two sides to the nickel flip that is life. I guess it’s just a matter of finding a way to live decently and fruitfully in between. The Apostle Paul calls this “redeeming the time” or in more colloquial translation “making the most of the days that you’ve got”. By this I understand him to mean something different from the sort of Carpe Diem / YOLO thinking that rears its head every once in a while. It’s not about gathering your rosebuds while ye may. It’s about doing something worthwhile when you have an opportunity.
We’re all going to get rusty someday. The most frustrating rust-buckets I know cannot accept this fact gracefully and spend most of their oxidizing years grasping at what they used to be in a sort of self-delusional superiority. I hope that’s never me. I hope when I finally realize that am no longer that strength which in olden days wielded saw and plane that I will still be able to offer whatever I have left. I hope that I will find ways to contribute – to make the most of my time now and redeem what is left when it grows short.
And, when the day comes that they return this quiet searcher to the soil, I hope someone will raise a glass in my memory and then sit it down on the table that I’m building right now. At least that would be something.