Tempus fugit is a Latin expression meaning “time flees”, more commonly translated as “time flies”. It is frequently used as an inscription on clocks. The expression was first recorded in the verse Georgics written by Roman poet Virgil: Sed fugit interea fugit irreparabile tempus, which means, “But it flees in the meantime: irretrievable time flees”. (taken from Wikipedia)

Time and pills . . . a lesson in life

As a heart transplant recipient (going on 15 years now), I have to take a lot of pills to protect this precious gift (funny how we don’t think of our own native hearts as “precious gifts” for if we did, we would take much better care of them…).  That twice daily discipline is supported by using a pill case that has four slots per day and seven days in the whole, so 28  slots that cover my twice daily needs for two weeks at each filling.

It is increasingly noticeable to me that those pill slots are being emptied at a seemingly ever increasing rate.  I reach up to get the next set of pills only to find another two days (a four slot tray) has passed, and even more surprising, how quickly it is time to refill the whole 28 slot case again (two weeks have passed in a flash).  Did I somehow double up on my doses and empty that tray in half the time?  No, its life – “Tempus fugit” – flying by,  faster with each passing day, month, and year.  I am becoming ever more aware that life is finite and even in these days of retirement from a pay-for-work career the daily busy-ness of life (and it is a very good and fulfilling life that keeps me so busy), life doesn’t slow down.

Geometry teacher (1968) JFK High School, Iselin, NJ

Geometry teacher (1968) JFK High School, Iselin, NJ

In a time “long ago” . . .

As a math teacher (so many years ago, as I was reminded recently when a woman came up to me and greeted me with “Mr. Gleason!” – explaining that she couldn’t address me by my first name, “Jim..” as everyone else was doing since she was a student in a geometry class I taught back in the 1960’s – oh, how I loved that teaching role! ), I discovered that this constantly faster life experience wasn’t a figment of our imagination, but rather had a mathematical basis for understanding it.  Consider, when you were 1 year old, that one year represented 100% of your life experience, and thus it seemed long.  When you were two, that same one year represented 50% of your life experience, and half your life at the time, still a long time, but relative to that first year, not as long.  Today, if you were 50, that same one year would represent only 1/50th or 2% of your life and isn’t that a small segment of that 50 years of life?  Thus a ratio of one year to one’s years of life lived keeps getting smaller and seemingly passing faster and faster.

So . . .

All of this ties back to the question of what to do with one’s life today?  Recall that promise to blog at least once a week?  Well, I am embarrassed when I look up and realize that the most recent post (before these last two) was way back in April!  Wow, where did that time go?  Each day, seemingly as busy as the one before it, if not busier, life is filled with exciting things to do,  just too little time to stop and reflect/write about it here.  An excuse?  No, not really, just a sharing of this insight about how “Tempus fugit” and the challenge of what do do with that daily gift of life.  Recall also, the commitment around the book, One Month to Live, to read it daily (for just 30 days is the program it offers) and share the reflections that come with that focus.  Well its been more than a month, and despite it being a very interesting book/program, I am just coming up on reading day seven!  No big deal as that was a totally arbitrary target, but still, only six short chapters in well over 30 days?  Yes, that’s how busy its been and so little time to share with you out there.  I can’t wait to tell you all about that Nursing class graduation event where I was the keynote speaker at their graduation – it was wonderful!  And then there was the beautiful award that class surprised me with, and then there was…. – well you get the idea.  Life is full and fulfilled, and that is truly a blessed thing.

Trivia: To your question (and one that is so often asked of any transplant recipient) of  “So, Jim, how many pills do you take each day?” my honest answer is fourteen different types and 25 individual pills (not counting two types of insulin taken four times a day).

Two weeks of pills

Two weeks of pills

Surprisingly, I don’t really feel challenged by that daily ritual.  At this point in my post transplant life (read that “getting older with each passing year,”) half of those are vitamins and minerals to aid in general health for this aging body.  Yes, still quite a contrast to those first 50 years of life when I never took any pills, not even an aspirin, but today, given the alternative, I am very glad these pills exist and do the job they do in making life as liveable as it is for me and so many others who are alive and thriving today with their support.

If you would like to read more . . .

Fantasy –> Dream –> Goal (written!) –> Action Plan –> Take Action –> Your Reality

…. on this subject of life goals and effective ways of turning  dreams into your life’s reality, you can find a deeper reflection and my obituary (or an early draft of one anyway…) beginning at page 36 of A Gift from the Heart‘s chapter titled: Tips for Dealing with Prolonged Illness (<— click to download the PDF file of that chapter)

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the  moments that take our breath away.”