The Genius Blog

Becoming a Day Counter

Posted by: Dan Rutledge on 07/08/2011 09:45 AM EDT
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My wife and I took a summer getaway to Savannah recently. We stayed in a renovated home in the historic district and spent our time drinking in the beauty of time long past.

Teach us to count our days.One early morning, we walked the city, exploring the ancient square parks where sunlight paints honeycomb shadows through giant moss-covered oaks. On our way we passed a cemetery. So old that even stone-chiseled tombstones are hardly readable.

Born and died. Two dates on every stone. We scanned through life after life after life… finding only one person that lived longer than our current age. The longest-living person we saw? 42 years old.

And then we noticed it.

It was the way that each epitaph was written. Each stone would include how long the person lived. And the fascinating thing is that they would always include months… and sometimes even days.

Charles Gildon – aged 11 years & 9 months.

John Simmons – aged 32 years & 3 days.

Have we forgotten the value of a single day? In our modern-day rush of activity… with our 4-year degrees and our 10-year business plans and our 20-year reunions and our 30-year mortgages? Do we still take time to savor and soak in the simple blessing of living?

Living. One. Single. More. Day.

I wonder sometimes if I even slow down enough to really make one day count. Or if I squander time carelessly, like someone so rich they burn money to light a cigar. Watching mindless television and maintaining my lawn and trying to earn money to buy stuff I don’t need and making lazy parenting choices and posting meaningless Facebook comments to people I hardly know.

There’s a line from an ancient poem that reads “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

I need the wisdom of that sun-scorched Georgia graveyard. I want to interact with my family and my world in a way that matters. Matters enough that if today’s date were chiseled in stone… it would make a difference. That the people I care about would mark off every single DAY that I was around.

39 years. 4 months. 1 day.

And counting.


Comments

Posted by Sarah Kagan on Monday, July 25, 2011 7:12 AM EDT
Dan: You are so right. We need to stop, smell the flowers, walk the graveyards and appreciate our days on earth. "Unplugging" is a good idea for minutes, hours and, possibly, even days...so we can be fully present for those we love.
Posted by Dan Rutledge on Monday, July 25, 2011 10:08 AM EDT
Thanks Sarah. Great comment... the unplugging is something I'm really trying to get better at when I'm at home. I've recently been reading a great book called "One Thousand Gifts" that I'll have to post about some time. It talks, among other things, about thankfulness being the key to slowing down a crazy life. I've got much to learn still. Thanks for reading!
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