Editor’s Note: This column originally ran Oct. 27, 2008. When I wrote it my grandpa was dying and I wasn’t sure what to do. I ended up writing this column, which helped. Many readers contacted me to tell me that they were touched by the column, so hopefully they won’t mind reading it again. I feel like it still holds true.
Get up. Go to class. Listen, take notes. Stay awake. Hour’s up, time for the next class. Listen, take notes. Stay awake. Time for lunch, but not too much time, you have another class. Listen, take notes. Stay awake. Give a presentation. Go home. Change clothes, go to work. Work. Change clothes, go home. Study for quiz, work on paper. Prepare for other class. Eat dinner. Last minute reading. Bed.
I thought once how Theocritus had sung
Of the sweet years, the dear and wished-for years,
It can be hard to find time in your day for the little things. The amount of effort and time you must invest in a class multiply rapidly as the quarter gains momentum, preparing you for the scary plunge off the cliff into finals. Add in everyday things you have to do (shower, eat, work, laundry, check the mail, get groceries, clean your room, clean the apartment, do the dishes, take out the trash …
) and the days slip out of your hands like a wet bar of soap.
Find time in your day, however, for this: tell someone that you love them.
Who each one in a gracious hand appears
To bear a gift for mortals, old or young:
It might not seem like it at first, but this is really the most important gesture or undertaking mentioned so far. School is important. So is work. So is everything. But the one thing that absolutely will not wait for you to get to it, to make time for it, is people. People can’t be put at the end of a to-do list.
And, as I mused it in his antique tongue,
I saw, in gradual vision through my tears,
The sweet, sad years, the melancholy years,
It doesn’t have to be the same person. It can be your parents, your girlfriend, your boyfriend. Your brother, your sister. Whomever is important to you. Let them know they matter, that they make a difference in your life. Say it however you want, just make sure you say it. They’ll know from the way you tell them, the warmth in the voice or the look in your eyes, how you feel about them.
Those of my own life, who by turns had flung
A shadow across me. Straightway I was ‘ware,
Loved ones are never on sale; you only get so many during the course of your lifetime. It’s important to treasure them and care for them while you can. Love might be a many splendored thing, but only if you tend and nurture that love.
So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move
Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair;
Everyone wants to feel special, to know that they are wanted, needed and appreciated by someone else. It makes you feel like you belong in the world, like you matter. Each and every person adds, in some way, something beautiful to the tapestry of life we are constantly weaving.
And a voice said in mastery, while I strove,–
Sometimes saying you love someone can be scary, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say it. Love isn’t meant to hurt people, it’s meant to leave a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling, like the ones you get from drinking hot chocolate under blankets on a rainy day. Sometimes being reminded that someone else loves us can wake us up, jolt us from our daily routine and remind us what really matters.
Tell someone you love them and watch as your own day gets brighter.
“Guess now who holds thee!“-“Death,“ I said, But, there,
The silver answer rang, “Not Death, but Love.“
RICHARD PROCTER wants to thank all of you readers for putting up with his column every Monday this year. He hopes you enjoyed it as much as he did, but you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org either way.