Thursday, 11 April 2013


“It is my feeling that Time ripens all things; with Time all things are revealed; Time is the father of truth.” - François Rabelais

A pebble thrown into a serene pond will disrupt its quiet waters and start off a series of ripples that will travel a great distance across the whole surface of the body of water to eventually reach the distant shores. The perfect reflections on the water will be fractured and the ever-widening wavelets will add another dimension of beauty to the pond. So is the quiet life of routine that many of us lead: A still, quiet pond where all is familiar and ordered. And then, an unexpected event disrupts the routine, just like a pebble thrown in the pond.

The pebble that caused ripples in my life this week was an unexpected phone call at work from a person I had not heard from for more than 35 years – an old fellow student from my university days. I must confess that I have not kept up with my fellow students even though the relationships and friendships formed at the time were quite genuine and deep. A group of us, around a dozen, completed our first postgraduate degree together and then we nearly all went off and pursued further study. Our paths separated, we scattered across different institutions, in different states. I had heard of one or another of them over the years through mutual acquaintances or on the net, however, there was no “proper” contact.

The phone call earlier this week was quite a surprise. Its purpose was to inform me that a reunion was being planned. This is the first such event that I have ever been invited to and although I was quite pleased to learn of it and have no qualms about attending it, it made me think. We were a closely-knit group for at least two years, we had experienced a lot together and we had enjoyed some excellent times at university, at what was our prime. All of us in our young adulthood, full of enthusiasm, our lives ahead of us, our heads full of ideas and our hearts light, our life full of endless possibilities. Here we are now, all of us now at middle age, many of us contemplating retirement in the next few years. More than three decades have intervened. We have lived the better part of our working lives and have achieved what we have achieved, professionally. Are we ready to confront each other’s aged selves and thus, perhaps more importantly, acknowledge the passage of time over ourselves?

How old we feel is sometimes incongruent with our biological age. I have caught sight of myself in a mirror unawares and have been startled by the middle-aged man looking out at me. Who is this stranger looking at me? Especially so if I have been thinking young ideas at the time! Such is the nature of ageing and the passage of time. It touches us more and more with each passing day and when we awaken one morning we find ourselves quite old. Where has our life gone? How have the years passed? Where did we squander all of that precious time?

It is a good thing at such times when we reflect upon the passage of time to consider our lives and our achievements. How time has weathered us and has ground away the hard edges. How we have matured emotionally, spiritually, mentally – not only biologically. The success of this self-evaluation, is the consideration of our advancing age and diminishing years we look forward to, contrasted with our increased experience and wisdom. We live and gain each day something new to be added to our storehouse of memories, experiences, knowledge and personal inner space. Life is a wonderful gift and we should learn to appreciate it every living moment. The older we become the more precious is this gift of life. I look forward to seeing my old fellow students at the planned reunion because I will acknowledge not only the richness of their past lives, but I will also re-examine my own life and acknowledge its enrichment as time has washed over it.

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