Posted by: Maryann McCullough | June 1, 2013

Story for June 2013


Maryann McCullough

Time has always seemed to me the gift with strings attached.  Yes, a gift but one for which an accounting will be expected; calendars and to-do lists combining for some sort of eleventh commandment.

I am perplexed at those who allow their personal allotment of time to just happen; those who like Topsy choose to just grow. Agenda-less, goal-less, defaulting to an amorphous life. Without those agendas and goals, watches and daytimers, how do they manage to smile as they saunter through life?

Whether I came to this view as one imposed by a god who is holding me responsible to discern and live out his plan or whether it is my own utilitarian sense, wanting my life to make some difference, I would describe my primary relationship to time to be that of steward.

As I recognize and describe this relationship, I also recognize the pitfalls of such a mindset. This is especially problematic when the man with whom I share my life sees himself a steward as well. It is not surprising then that taking time to remove our responsibility mantles and put on our party hats doesn’t happen without effort and planning.

Retirement has added a new problem to my “time” mentality. Earlier in my life, daily decisions were pre-programmed as a result of the big choices I had made – being a wife, being a mother, being a teacher. Those choices not only filled my waking hours but gave inherent meaning to those sometimes mundane tasks that filled my hours. It wasn’t a mind game that I played but rather a shift in perception. Meal prep, cleaning, and laundry have a loftier feel when viewed in the context of “caring for my family.”

My present life has left me both the blessing and burden of making choices. No young children of my own in need of my guidance. No students for whom the mysteries of geometry need an explanation. When I awake each day, it is essentially a blank slate that awaits me. Each day provides twenty-four hours of discretionary time. An enviable prospect for those whose lives are governed by the afore-mentioned alarm clocks and day-timers I’m sure. But it presents its own challenges

Meaningfulness is not an automatic by-product of my present life. It first must be discerned and then it must be consciously chosen. My younger life did not require such analysis. There was less time in that hectic life for introspection. There was also less need for such deliberation regarding how my day or how my three score and ten was spent.As a busy wife, mother, and teacher meaningfulness was automatically programmed into my day.

I recognize that my attitude toward the responsibility-focused use of time is certainly not the only appropriate one. In fact, those who do more smelling of roses and the like may actually be the ones who have made the better choice. I often attribute my sense of responsibility to being the firstborn. That initial passage through the birth canal having rubbed responsibility into the very pores of my being. I occasionally look with longing and a mild jealousy at those who prioritize that “F” word – fun.

I have always been the industrious ant but I am becoming increasingly aware of the enchanting music being made by the grasshopper.

Perhaps I could offer to share my store of grain if he would play his music while I worked.

Perhaps, in time, he might even teach me to play.



  1. I’m trying also Mar, to learn the F word…love you, Vicki xxx

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