Several weeks ago, the mailman deposited three Winco plastic shopping bags with my daily load of flyers, fan mail, and bills. OK, a little light on the fan mail, but a guy can dream. The print on the exterior of the bag was a request for canned foods to be set by the box for pickup on the following Saturday. For the record, I live in a very uncluttered home with lots of lots open space. With the exception of a T-Shirt habit, my closets do not overflow with clothes from yesteryear. I have three skillets for cooking and two soup pans. The freezer houses less than a three day supply of Ben and Jerry’s.
While rummaging through an orderly pantry, I began selecting items from the 22 various cans. I always have a decent stash of Campbell’s Chunky soup and thought they would be good candidates for the local food bank. When I flipped them over to check the dates, a bewildered feeling took over with the realization that they all expired in 2010. I am not sure of the shelf life for clam chowder, but willing to bet that the original procurement date was 2008. How does five years disintegrate so rapidly?
My friend Dexter from Boston is reading the current draft of my future best selling book, A Million Steps. In a latter chapter, I reflect on the rapid passage of time. From a third week view, a month of walking does not resemble the perspective on day 1. There is so little left and the previous days vanished in a blink. The walk is one million steps and I often refer to different places as being at a certain point like 350,000 steps. Dex recommended that I include a similar mathematical scheme to look at my age and longevity in terms of days.
I pulled the old Texas Instruments calculator out and began a simple yet stunning multiplication exercise. Approximately 18,035 days separate my birth from this day. If I am fortune, my 80th birthday will occur in 11,132 days. The rotten soup was purchased 1,825 days ago.
Prior to waking the Camino, when I wandered into my past, I would attach myself to an unpleasant anvil like my Father’s death or a failed relationship. When looking at the future, I always had my eyes on the horizon thinking about how great life would be after some future event. Now, I have made a cognizant and unnatural effort to focus on the current moment. This is the only possible time that life can actually be lived. The old cliche of yesterday being history and tomorrow being a mystery developed deep roots on the trail.
If you are lucky enough to live to be 80, the 35 days that is takes to walk the Camino will represent less than 1/10 of 1% of your entire life. Just like soup, we all have a “use by” date.
Today is yesterday’s tomorrow……..