Losing track of time…REALLY???

losing track of time

by Kenneth Justice

~ “Kenneth, I feel like its simply too late for me to do anything more…my body is just so worn out. Some days its all I can do just to get out of bed

I was sitting at coffee recently talking to a friend of mine who just retired. He is getting older in his years and worn out. His career for the past thirty years or so definitely took a toll on both his physical body and his mental faculties. He had to deal with a lot of stress in various forms and retirement which he was looking forward to for so long……is now something he is beginning to see as nothing more than another exhausting issue he must think about.

At least when I was still working it forced me to get up every morning. Sure, towards the end I really started to hate my job….but at least it gave me some type of purpose and it helped me ignore all of the pain I am in” he said

With New Year’s day fast approaching its hard for me to not think of all the time that I’ve lost in the past year. Like it or not, there were so many things I had hoped to accomplish yet I simply ran out of time. Of course, while I don’t like to spend too much time dwelling on the negative…its hard to ignore the fact that I’m not growing any younger.

It’s funny the way us people in the Western World make a big deal out of particular dates. It’s not as though January 1st is any more or less important than March 3rd or August 10th…..but because we’ve designated it the “New Year” many of us use this time to look back at the past year and weigh our various accomplishments or lack thereof. For many of us turning 16 or 21 were ‘big’ years; it meant that we could finally drive a car or here in the U.S. it meant we could legally order an alcoholic drink (although by 21 most Americans are already seasoned drinkers).

A lot of people look at their 40th year as a monumental year; if they haven’t accomplished what they want with their life by age 40 then it can cause some people to get really depressed or it can stir others to generating an even greater passion and drive to meet the goals they have set before themselves.

I’m barely in my mid-30’s and yet I have felt a strong pressure to do something more with my life for a long time. When my father was alive he was one of the most successful businessmen I’ve ever known. By his mid-forties he had created companies in numerous states and had more employees and contractors than I could count……..But I’m not a businessman. Never have been and never will be…….I always preferred sitting in my library studying Plato or Aquinas……I’ve always been nothing more than an armchair philosopher who enjoyed a nice cup of coffee. Thus, when I think of all that my father accomplished and weigh it against my meager existence I tend to think that I am simply not doing enough with life…..and so with another New Years day coming it is simply one more reminder to me of how little I’ve accomplished with my life.

My friend sitting with me at coffee has accomplished a lot with his life. He doesn’t realize it but he’s been one of the most important people in my life for the past five years. He’s also touched a lot of other peoples lives, “Look dude, most people would be thankful to have done half of what you have done” I told him, but he just smiled and brushed it off. “Kenneth, its all taken such a toll on my body. Some days the pain is unbearable…..so all I can say is that I just don’t know“.

Nobody can really tell us what our life amounts to and what it is worth….its something that each of us must figure out for ourselves. My friend who died last year was well into his eighties when he took his last breath. He was one of the greatest men I’ve ever known and touched more lives than most people could do in ten lifetimes. He was a high school counselor for thirty years and a minister for 35 years…..Yet as I sat next to him in the hospital as he was dying he gave me the same old look through his tired eyes, “Kenneth, I wish I had done more“. I recall getting into an argument with him while he was still in his seventies, his wife was still alive at the time and she was taking my side, “You should quit blaming yourself because you’ve done so much good with your life…it’s not your fault that the world is getting crazier all the time” we told him. But he wouldn’t listen to us, “Kenneth” he told me, “Don’t ever let others define you…….you have to decide for yourself who you will be” he said

So I guess as New Years day comes on Wednesday I will be thinking about all of this…..I’ll be wondering what my life is really all about. I’ll make myself a cup of coffee and look out the window……I wonder what the New Year will bring?



BTW) If you are wondering what the New Year will bring come back to my blog on New Years day for my big announcement!









Categories: Culture & Society

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58 replies

  1. Kenneth, I am in the middle if writing my post today, and I got an email about this post. The title of yours is staggeringly synchronostic with the title of mine (in my mind anyway). I wanted to let you know immediately, to avoid possible liability or requests for royalty checks. I shall return later to read your (I’m sure) excellent post.

  2. No one ever expected me to amount to anything. That was such a strongly held belief in my family, that even when I did anything, no one noticed or cared. And I have had a fabulous life because of that. I have had a life of doing my own thing. I’ve lectured, taught at university (I got my degrees while I was married), done so many exciting (to me) things. No one in my family gave me any direction or encouragement, which was wonderful. I’m so grateful to them because by leaving me alone, I was able to design my own life in my own way. I learned never to expected anything from anyone and that was another excellent gift. I don’t compare myself to anybody. I don’t really think in terms of success or failure, I’m not even sure what that is, really. I just keep going. I don’t blame myself for anything because I know that every decision I’ve ever made was the right decision at the time. You can’t actually judge your past in the present because things are different now and you have information that was not available at the time. I never had any goals, I just decided to try different things. I married the love of my life and he was okay with whatever I did. So…I have always just done my own thing and that’s pretty much it. I never feel sorry for myself and I have absolutely no regrets, not a single one. My life, my responsibility and I did it my way. It doesn’t get any better than that, at least not for me.

    • You have such a great story, I wish more young people could here people share examples like yours because so many people out there believe that it’s up to their family or society to do everything for them…….

  3. I would love to introduce your friend to some great masseuses. This is time for him to seek out alternative pain relief methods. Physical therapy and acupuncture. To enjoy his retirement fully first he will have to learn how to take care of his older body and find new purpose.Whether working or retired, what sense is there to quantify your accomplishments. Sure a list of goals or a to do list can get your moving but who is to say the time frame. I say that it is time for him to feel out new things he has always been curious about. Young men with families have a challenge there everyday. Fathers and husbands who excel in their roles are rare.

    • Ellen, so funny you say that….this morning I ran into him and I mentioned to him that he should consider getting a physical therapist, or personal trainer or something to help him a bit with the physical pain he is in…..

  4. I know I can’t never turn back time or change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my GPS to reach my destination. We look back because we can only see our past and predict our future mystery.
    Great thoughts and hope your new year announcement is a challenge, happy, big hit for you. I’ll be applauding.

  5. As you exampled in your post, you have often thought that others have done more than their fair share of good in this world, accomplished more than enough to warrant a rest, yet they themselves thought they should still do more, so don’t sell yourself short. You are not your father, nor your friends, you are simply you and it would be near impossible to ever truely know the full extent of the impact you have had (and will have) on the world around you. While your father may have built businesses I would bet that you have saved lives and spread hope to countless people. It would be like comparing apples to oranges. As we overcome each struggle, each daunting task, that life throws our way it is in our nature to devalue the effort it took to become the person strong enough to make it through. When we look back we fail to see how hard it was to get through each situation because we have emerged stronger and more knowledgable. If we can do it, shouldn’t everyone be able to? There will always be someone who is better skilled and more accomplished, let them be an inspiration but never a reason to doubt yourself.

    • Very well said……I guess that is why I often think of my dying friend and his encouragement not to let others define me; we each have to figure to things for ourselves 🙂

  6. Seriously Kenneth – you must quit teasing us with your lil’ announcement – say it already lol. You know you want to. 🙂 Anyway, I’ve already told you many times of my own age complex. I had another horrid age complex related breakdown last night actually (well it’s also related to other insecurities but that’s another story). I have to admit to not “aging gracefully” in a way and I’m only 32. I feel so much older and so unaccomplished it’s ridiculous and yet I know that’s not totally true either. Accomplishments can be defined in many ways – it’s just a matter of taking a moment to be reflective and to gain some perspective on our accomplishments that we tend to overlook. For some, simply being a good person during difficult times is a huge accomplishment or changing a bad habit that was really detrimental can be huge. Just smiling more, which helps ourselves but also others, again is another big accomplishment that’s usually overlooked because it doesn’t come with some grand result, at least that we can see. It’s not bad to be result driven, it’s not always bad to feel like the only way to measure success is with some tangible result but that’s not always possible. We just have to have faith that we are accomplishing more than meets the eye and that’s difficult. Oh by the way, Aug. 10 is no biggie but Aug 3 is huge lol (that’s my b-day just saying). 🙂

    p.s. so really about this announcement – are you having some ugly deformity removed? Or are you ACTUALLY adopting this Culture Monk title and going wandering around the continental U.S. wearing a brown robe helping people to see the light? Hmm… the possibilities are endless 🙂

    • Im not a couple years older than you and what I think is that something happened during our era which got people our age into a weird mindset in which we always feel like we’re not doing enough with our lives…..I can’t imagine farmers back in the 1800’s saying to themselves “I’m not doing enough with my life” lol, I imagine that we’re just so thankful and happy to have good crops and food for their family……

      As to my announcement, okay, I will tell just you; ” “…..weird, I tried typing in the parentheses but it simply came out blank…..guess you’ll have to wait till New Years day along with everyone else 😉

    • Laughing out (very) loud!! 🙂

    • LOL well that wasn’t a denial or pregnancy or deciding to wander as a true culture monk so it’s gotta be one of those. 🙂 Fine be that way ppffffftttt. Yes well I think for me it’s tied in with the whole not being settled down and not as far along in my career at this age – 90 percent or greater of my friends are married and/or have kids, etc., so yeah I’m feeling the pressure of age for sure cuz for us women there really is so much time to be wasted but oh well. Not everyone is meant to be a mom so 2014 will be a lot of soul searching, finding my way knowing that certain things just won’t be part of my future and that’s okay – life can be plenty successful/fulfilling in plenty of other ways. 🙂 just gotta figure out what that is…hmm.

    • Yea, I won’t even pretend to know what it’s like to be a woman and feel the societal pressure regarding marriage, children, etc……men are totally off the hook when it comes to these things cuz nobody really thinks anything of an older single guy who has never been married

  7. Kenneth, I am not just saying this to make you feel good, but reading your blog has inspired me and has helped me to open my mind to a world of possibilities. My blogging is only in the embryonic stage but when you “like” what I write, I feel the support of someone whom I admire. I am 55 years old, married for 18, have 2 sons, 17 and 14. I have had a very successful career but am now branching out into this new world of blogging, speaking and writing a book. I don’t look back anymore because it doesn’t help to inspire my future. One of my very well-published college professors once said as he was dying from a brain tumor in his early 30s: “I wish I had spent less time working and more time with my family and friends.” To me, he had it all, but he expressed the regret of a life spent focused on ground-breaking research over being with the people who mattered most to him. I will toast you with a cup of coffee today and I CAN’T wait for your New Year’s surprise!

    • Great quote by your Prof……I think many of us look back and think we should have done more and that is okay in a way, cause it demonstrates how much passion is within our spirit 🙂

      Thank you for all your kind words……..I do try and read as much of other peoples blogs as I can, I know that when I first began blogging it was always encouraging when other bloggers would take the time to read my articles 🙂

  8. I understand your friend’s dilemma.

    For many men in the United States
    ‘Identity’ is deeply connected to
    ‘work’ and work is located
    outside of home.

    I’ve heard it said that all of the
    major shifts in life are points
    of crisis of identity.

    The youth/age crisis is one
    that we have brought on

    In a less “self ‘ oriented culture
    we seek to grow up, create our
    lives and take pleasure in the
    youth of our children and grand

    I frequently lie about my age
    on internet forms.

    It’s a question that I should
    not be asked in the first

    I started this habit when I
    began to receive Viagra

    I will not be shoved into a
    demographic ghetto based
    on consumerism.

    My grandmother said that
    “age is an incident”.

    Our minds do not necessarily
    agree with our bodies when
    it comes to age.

    And the world should remain
    open to us regardless of age.

    We are always becoming and
    I’m not sue that we stop with

    It sounds to me as if your friend
    is having a crisis of identity.

    If we lived in less predatory

    One that valued community
    over the myth of the individual
    these transitions would not be
    so difficult.

    He would have a place as an

    And we would know how
    much he is needed

    Rob Goldstein

    • Great comments Rob, damn. I wish I could comment as poetically as you do when I write on other peoples blogs! I’m jealous

    • Happy New Year and thank you
      for the complement…:)

      I really love the conversation that developed
      around this topic.

      I’m new to blogging and I have decided
      to press pause on my own Blog which
      is still under development.

      Someone wrote about coming out as gay and
      losing one’s family as a consequence.

      All of the “isms” are designed to invalidate the
      humanity of the target.

      The result is “moral exclusion”.

      The target is treated as “not human” and
      therefore not worthy of morally mandated rights and

      A good example is the recent decision by
      Congress to cut food subsidies that largely
      benefit children and the elderly.

      A reasonable mind understands that hunger
      is physically painful.

      At this moment in history we are a culture
      that has lot its ability to reason.

      Reason tells us that all children
      deserve food by virtue of their
      status as children.

      Our cultural definition of what it means to
      be an individual is defined as adhering to
      political or religious dogma as part of
      a group.

      Homophobia is not an “ism” but it functions as

      Homophobes are afraid of the homosexual

      After I came out to my family I lost some
      of them but gained self respect.

      If our species could free itself from the jungle
      of the mind we would use reason when we
      discuss human nature.

      I’ve read that true individuation often results in
      isolation because the true individual no longer
      needs to “act out” his individuality.

      He is at peace with himself.

      The true individual understands that
      everything we do has a social
      consequence because we are
      inescapably social.

      We cannot be “individuals”
      without other people.

      The loss of family when I came out
      would have been more painful had
      there not been other gay men who
      had also said no to the identity of

      Are there people who will always think
      of gays as “perverts”.


      But they no longer define me.

      Therefore I do not regret my decision
      to come out.

  9. Don’t let others define you. That’s great advice. Sometimes I feel like what people say when they know they are close to death is completely different from anything else we hear in life. Reading that, I couldn’t help but think of the time I just spent with my family. At the end of the day, I was again extremely stressed about ever admitting to them I am not Catholic anymore. I consider marriage something I want within the next 10 years and I worry about how my family will react to what I do and don’t want more than anything else. While their feelings and opinions deserve respect (they are family after all) I can’t let that get in the way of what I want for life. I can’t let them define me.

    Which brings up another question. If a person did not let the people closest to them define them and, as a consequence, lost those people, would they still think they made the best decision?

    • Dude, what a tough question……I guess the only way we could know the answer to such a deep question is when we near the end our life and look back. Then we could look at the whole course of our life and decide whether or not we’re happy with the consequences of all our decisions

    • I think it’s more about choosing to look at the good side. Let’s say, for example, someone comes out as gay to their family and their family then abandon’s them. That person can choose to regret that decision for the loss of their family or choose to embrace that decision because they didn’t let anyone define them. Someone who chose to keep that secret can feel ashamed they are letting people define them or happy they have a family. It all depends on how you look at a situation.

  10. You should check out Donald Miller’s “Storyline.” (http://storylineblog.com/). It’s a workbook to help you set goals and clarify what’s important in your life. I found it really helpful! Best wishes to you in the New Year.

  11. “people in the Western World make a big deal out of particular dates” followed by “come back to my blog on New Years day for my big announcement!”. And in between “another New Years day coming it is simply one more reminder to me of how little I’ve accomplished with my life.” Hmmmm….

    Confuscious he say: “December not time for sad goodbye to muddled thoughts. December not time for sad. Good bye to muddled thoughts.”

  12. I take iron every day. We all should. And how you manage such incisive writing every day … big respect. And the only reason I keep coming back every day is because you are always worth reading. Big Respect! So a Happy New Year to you and yours! More fun celebrations! Love it!! And still no guilt or angst!!

  13. At 53 I feel like I haven’t “accomplished” a lot. I don’t have a career so to speak, but have spent most of my life as a mother and homemaker. Now, trying to reenter the workforce my resume looks like garbage. Hmm, managing a home, raising decent human beings, managed finances, relocating us a hundred times..it’s all relative. I’ve been a model, a mother, a singer, a wife, a dancer, a photographer, a writer, and mostly I think, a good friend. Wonder how that would look on a job application. 🙂

  14. Believe it or not, EVERYBODY makes a difference. Big or Small.

    Before I had to retire early at the age of 56 due to chronic pain and ill health, I felt a bit of a failure too. But that……….was my Mother’s opinion.

    Looking back on all my different jobs in my working life, I can see so many achievements. All my office jobs were streamlined and improved. I made innovations that were carried on well after I left those jobs. My live-in children’s Nanny jobs both here & London were especially important as each child was loved and encouraged – some to go on and work with children themselves (as they felt I had given them something they were missing). I worked for 3 years with a couple of children who’s Mother had committed suicide and being only 2 & 4 at the time of her death had not understood where or why she disappeared. The nightmares and bewilderment disappeared early on when they were under my care. They had a sense of finality and were able to put their questions to rest when I answered them in a way that was easy to understand and relevant to their situation. And I asked their Father to allow them to visit her grave (in the care of their Grandmother who they adored). They then had a sense of where she was and that she was at rest (she had been in a terrible car accident and was in constant pain (even before they were born). My Mother always looked down on this particular job as menial, but I had a sense of purpose and fulfilment.

    My 87 yr old Father recently confided in his feeling of failure in his working life (until I pointed out how many things he had done for so many people – e.g. he was a Scout Master for over 30 years). I also mentioned how much his care in listening to my worries & fears had shaped my own life. My Mother rarely did anything beyond criticising me.

    We have to learn to look back on our lives and ask were we happy in our jobs, not, did we measure up to other people’s standards.

    Success comes in many forms, not necessarily our job title and the size of our bank account or material possessions. People look back on their lives and assess their success by looking at how many things they failed at, or did wrong, and feel a failure because of them. People should be looking at how many things they did right. We all make mistakes, but it’s only by learning from these mistakes that we become a better person.

    As I said, EVERYBODY makes a difference and you’d be surprised how many people are the better, or happier, for your presence in their lives. One sentence, uttered at the right time, can change the whole course of a client, patient or colleague’s life. One small Act of Kindness will be remembered for many years into the future. That is my success(es) and I know I made a difference.

    • Thank you so much Vickie, awesome comments and I really take them to heart 🙂

      I worked for 3 years with a couple of children who’s Mother had committed suicide and being only 2 & 4 at the time of her death had not understood where or why she disappeared. The nightmares and bewilderment disappeared early on when they were under my care. They had a sense of finality and were able to put their questions to rest when I answered them in a way that was easy to understand and relevant to their situation. And I asked their Father to allow them to visit her grave (in the care of their Grandmother who they adored). They then had a sense of where she was and that she was at rest (she had been in a terrible car accident and was in constant pain (even before they were born). My Mother always looked down on this particular job as menial, but I had a sense of purpose and fulfillment

      this particularly was really touching

  15. Your father gave you sage advice.

  16. Can you tell us of the exact time tomorrow’s post will hit? 😉 Waiting…patiently. Well, kinda.

    I identify completely with this type of struggle. 40 is beating down my door quicker every year. I have loads to do before feeling content. I was only half joking about Costa Rica. 🙂

    • Lol….well, I try to post my articles between 6:45-7:45 AM (EST)……I read somewhere once that its important to be consistent in the time you post articles each day…..

      as far as Costa Rica…I’m never joking about it! My current trip is scheduled for two weeks from now!!!! I’m counting the days 🙂 My long term goal is to figure out how to live their full time, or at least six months out of the year.

    • Good for you!! Seriously. I would have never guessed. I have a similar goal. I wanna run the world in an effort to completely find myself, but at the same time feel universally useful. I don’t even know what that means. Quite frankly, I have a vagabond’s soul, it seems. LOL

    • Oh and yea, being on vacation the last two weeks has really screwed up my schedule. My posts are usually around 7:30am

  17. I’ve developed a life approach based on a restatement of John Donne and it never runs out of ways to express itself. “I shall pass this way but once. Therefore, any goodness I can do, any kindness I can show, let me not defer it nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” I could be in any profession or activity and utilize that life approach.

    I’m the most highly educated and least financially successful person in my family of origin because I focused on what I could give to the world rather than what I could get from it. That hasn’t worked so well financially, but I can look back on positive changes I’ve effected in the world. I figure if I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach and adequate clothes on my back I’m doing okay. We can’t take it with us when we go.

    • “I’m the most highly educated and least financially successful person in my family….”

      its interesting that you say this because every time I consider pursuing my PhD I wonder if it’s really worth the cost (both financial cost and all the time that it will take)…..I have to figure out whether I merely want to do it for the ‘prestige’ (which probably isn’t the best reason) of if I want to do it because I really believe it will help me in my future life

      thanks for the great comments as usual 🙂

    • It is a matter of timing, IMO. I’d have been better off to go to the Rogerian therapy school in Boston than to graduate from law school just before the Great Recession.

      If you want to do therapy then this is a good time to access the career. Why? Because there is parity for mental health and substance abuse treatment now and there is already a shortage of providers. There is, OTOH, no shortage of lawyers. Ooops.

  18. sheesh, there you go with the tease again. dude it’s just a couple hrs away, share it already. (lol). great post. who knows, you just might be contributing more to society than you really thunk.

  19. Anice post, really work defines our personality.

  20. I am going on 72 years old, live in a self made cabin in the woods. and the most valuable possession I own is a homemade guitar signed by Stevie Nicks.

    I am a complete failure in the eyes of my SIL (who is a self made millionaire) and most everybody . . . and yet . . . and yet . . . I have for many years now considered myself to be king of the world.

    What can be more valuable that that?

    • Okay….you own a homemade guitar signed by Stevie Nicks?????? In most of my friend’s books you’re a major success!!!

      And I knew you lived in a cabin but YOU MADE IT BY YOURSELF??? Holy cow dude!

  21. I built the whole compound myself . . . 2 cabins three outbuildings, an art studio and a dojo on the hillside. . . now I am broke.

    Stevie came to me hidden under a Beatles sticker on a custom made guitar I bought on e-bay. It was purchased through an auction house that I am certain had no clue her autograph was even there . . . I considered it a gift from the gods when I pealed away the sticker . . .my daughter got it for christmas. 🙂

  22. I already accomplished the most important things I wanted to accomplish in my life when I was in my mid 20s. Everything since then has just been extra credit. I never sought to impress anyone but myself. My mother taught me that, to believe in me. So, I had some personal dreams, things I was passionate about, and I met them. There’s more I could do, but the idea of obsessing over always doing more is the attitude of a masochist. I’m content to do enough to feel satisfied for a moment and then take a break. Why get stressed out? What does it gain me?

    Recently, I’ve found satisfaction in writing blog posts and bringing traffic to my blog, but some days I just stop. I’ve already written a lot. I don’t need to impress anyone. I don’t need to fix every problem. So, I just stop and relax, and I think maybe one day I’ll just relax forever and move onto some other challenge.

  23. What a great view of the accomplishments of ones’ life. I agree with you that most people never feel as though they have done enough – enough being a general definition of what they had hoped to do with their life. Me included. But we can only do as much as we are able, and as you said to your friend – we must not blame ourselves for accomplishing all that we have and feeling it was not enough. I hope 2014 is kind to you, and that you accomplish most of what you hope to. Thanks for stopping by and liking ‘Ohio Winter – 2014’.

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