My friend Charlie loves family vacations. He loves kayaking and he loves traveling to places like Mexico and Vermont. He calculates he has 1,820 weekends left, assuming he doesn’t fritter them away and that he lives until 80.
Those are big assumptions, which means to say his total is somewhat flexible. It can increase, but most likely it will decrease because you never know the day or the hour when you’ll go to meet your Maker.
Every so often, Charlie undertakes this calculation to cheer himself up when he’s down, when the trials of parenthood and life become too much to take – when his daughters drive him crazy, when the people at work are more than any employee should be forced to endure on a bad day, let alone on a good day, when it seems that nothing is going right and that all he has is his weekends and the freedom and pleasure they provide.
Living for the weekend is a time-honored tradition in the working world because, sad to say, sometimes all we have are those two days of freedom.
Charlie admitted to me that he has frittered away his fair share of time. Some weekends were lost because of prior obligations, a wedding here, a wake there. Others were lost to household chores, which his spouse required him to do. Paint a bedroom, clean the gutters, mow the lawn, seal the driveway. And let’s not forget taking the kids to soccer practice and play rehearsal. There’s always something.
However, he makes his weekend count to convince himself there’s still time left to have a good time. That there’s still reason to be hopeful.
I’ve often believed you should live life a day at a time – not a weekend at a time, because the weekends are never assured. None of us knows for sure how long she or he has left.
God gives us life a day at a time, and we don’t know when it will end. That thief Christ talked about comes when we least expect him. On more than one occasion, Jesus stressed the absolute importance of being ready for our personal day of judgment when we’ll have to give an accounting of our lives and how we lived.
As I make my way through middle age, I’ve had the sad occasion to hear countless stories of friends, relatives and acquaintances who discovered they had cancer or died suddenly in a car accident. So many of them, like Charlie, thought they had 1,820 or more weekends left, but learned too late they didn’t, and there was so much left to do.
My daughters have lost at least four teenage friends over the past year. They were young people who thought they had thousands of weekends left, but whose lives were cut short because someone was drinking and driving or because of the countless tragedies that can end a young life. They were young people who thought they’d live forever, until they realized nothing is certain.
The lesson is simple. Cherish each day, no matter how painful – and don’t wait for the weekend. Grow in love and faith even when the obstacles seem insurmountable. Take the trials and hardships along with the joy and pleasure and offer them up to Christ.
A day at a time. That’s how it’s given to us, and that’s how we’re meant to live it. All the trials and sufferings and successes and joys are included in that one day.
When I try to live more than a day at a time, my life becomes burdensome and overwhelmed with anxieties about the future and regrets about the past. There have been countless occasions when I’ve lain awake at night in bed, worrying about the future – but when the future arrived, the things I feared never happened.
A day at a time. (That having been said, I still hope I have at least 1,820 weekends left.)
J.F. Pisani is a writer who lives with his family in the New Haven area.
Views, Opinions and Insight from The Catholic Transcript's Columnists and Guests.
One Day at a Time