Your Clock Ain’t the Boss – Gary’s September Gems
“Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short
When you reach September
When the Autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time for the waiting game”
Ever notice how we package time into bundles? Regardless of the weather or the calendar, once September comes, it’s time to sprinkle pumpkin spice mix on everything and put away all our white clothes. In Montreal, school starts in late August, so public pools are drained, and the only sound emanating from our festival sites is the swoosh of rolling tumbleweeds. The clock is our conductor. It sets our pace and dictates the trajectory of our journey.
We (humans) like boundaries. And we like leaders who set them. We say we don’t, but we gravitate towards the security that comes from knowing what to expect. The more chaos, the more we reach for our teddy bears (or our moms). There is a script allocated to us the moment we make our entrance stage left. Some of us memorize it and live each act as it is written. Others give it a look over, then throw it away, choosing to improvise their role. My grandmother, Florence, was such a person.
I like to believe that I inherited some of her “chutzpah”.
Like many women of her age, she ran the house but, unlike many at that time, held a full-time job. After working years in the telephone answering service industry, she moved up the ranks to become the General Manager of the company she worked for. That’s when she tore up the script entirely and threw it and her bossy clock out the window. At 64, it was time to rewind a new clock and write a new script.
Ronald & Florence Blair
Grandmother was proud of what she had accomplished for the company she worked for. She made them a lot of money and wanted to do the same for her family at this point in her life. Leaving behind a legacy was vital to her – especially financially – given her family’s sacrifices during this very tough era. As general manager, she knew all there was to know about the operational side of the business, and she had her mind set on recruiting the perfect partner to manage the growth of the company – her son and my dad, Ronald Blair.
Grandma didn’t take management courses. They weren’t available to women in those days. But she had instinctual leadership skills. She could regularly be seen on the frontline serving customers and deep in the trenches working with the agents. She was everywhere. Her passion and energy were always displayed as she would enthusiastically fill in any needed role. And she kept her trusty headset next to her until the day she retired, just in case.
As I approach the age of “49”, I marvel at the energy. She not only got through the day – she drove through it. How was she able to ignore the clock telling her to slow down? When I hear a clock tick-tocking, it’s because I’m in a collectables shop, Do clocks actually imagine that I’m getting closer to the end of the day. Can we actually “beat the clock”?
Indeed, there are many with health problems or environmental issues that diminish their quality of life, but those people aside, how much power do we have over the “clock”. At around the time of my Grandmother’s retirement at the age of 80yrs, I asked her why a woman of her age didn’t have any aches and pains.
“Why do you think I don’t?” – was her reply.
“Well, I do, but talking about them won’t get me any relief, so what is the point.”
She packed a lot into her last twenty years. Her passion turned from work to wanderlust. She joined a Golden-Agers travel group and then proceeded to visit six of the seven continents. Grandmother exercised nearly every day of her life right up to her death at just over 100yrs.
What did I learn from this? The play ain’t over until the fat lady sings. (No offence, Grandma). In other words, life is an adventure and remains one up until our very last day – if health allows. We don’t get old until we feel old, which is something we can control.
I remember taking her out for her 99th birthday lunch. She loved food and rejoiced in every bite. We had an appetizer and a main course, and for dessert, I ordered her a special crème brulée. When it arrived at the table, it came with a birthday candle. As she scooped up the very last bite of her dessert, she looked over at my untouched crème brulée and asked if I was going to eat it. They say one’s appetite wanes as we get older – guess she never got to that part of the script.
So, is the clock “the boss of us”? I say, only if we want it to be. We can choose to live our lives according to what people (including ourselves) expect us to do and be at any given age, or we can listen to our own internal “tick-tock” and march to it. I always believe that there is no better time to achieve anything than now. Shaw once said that “youth was wasted on the young.”
When we’re young, we’re fearless; because we lack wisdom from experience, age is meaningless. Only when we have experienced life and faced mortality are we aware of our limitations and potential. We understand that “now” is very precious. So, we have the option. Knowing that our journey will end and our clock will stop, do we march in time on the spot. Or do we rush through our remaining time, gorging ourselves with candlelit crème brulées?