Sunday, April 28, 2013

Love is spelled, T I M E.

At a recent Toastmasters conference I had the pleasure of hearing Dana LaMon speak on “Making the Moment Meaningful”. During his presentation he posed the question, “How are you spending your time?”

That simple question got my head spinning. School days and story days split my time and leave me in a daze. Every day is filled from morning to night. Sleep is an elusive luxury. Dreaming big requires big work I tell myself as I hurry from place to place, from task to task, from story weekends to busy school weeks. And just when I’m feeling smug and self important in my busy life something happens to remind me of what’s really important. A simple question, “How are you spending your time?”
I fear I have become the hare, when perhaps I really need to be the tortoise. As I pondered the hare and the tortoise, I began to ask myself who in my life does time well. I thought of my dad.
As a little girl and even through my teen years, I knew that if I asked my Dad to play a game with me, he would stop whatever he was doing and play a game. Sometimes he would pick the game and sometimes I would pick the game. That was the only decision to be made. There was no question about whether we would play a game, and there was no delaying the game. The same rule applied for my brothers and sister as well.
What I didn’t know was just how busy my father was. He taught full time, pursued his love and talents with photography and attended graduate school throughout my childhood. He eventually completed his dissertation and earned his doctoral degree. It takes a long time to accomplish your goals when you’re constantly asked by children to play games. But he stuck with both - his education and his children.
When it came to playing games, Dad never let us win. We had to learn to win. He began teaching me to play chess when I was small. He played with just a few pieces and taught me the strategy of the game. When I was able to beat him three times in a row, he’d add another piece to his side of the board.  Christmas vacation of my freshman year in college I arrived home and marched into the living room, calling to my Dad, “Hey, let’s play chess”.  He looked at me and said, “How many pieces do I get?” I answered, “All of them.”

It was the first time I ever beat Dad with all his pieces. It only took ten years. But we stuck with it. And now at 80, he still wins more often than not.

As I look back at those chess lessons, and all the other games we played, I realize that chess wasn’t the lesson. Time was the lesson.  Love was the lesson.  And love is spelled T  I  M E.
So for today, I cut my story writing time short to love my sons. Perhaps we’ll play a game.