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There’s no time to kill at 99, 62, 25 or 17 years

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POSTED March 31, 2018 12:57 a.m.

There’s no time to kill between the cradle and the grave
Father Time still takes a toll on every minute that you save
Legal tender’s never gonna change the number on your days
The highest cost of livin’s dyin’, that’s one everybody pays
So have it spent before you get the bill, there’s no time to kill
If we’d known ten years ago today would be ten years from now
Would we spend tomorrow’s yesterdays and make it last somehow
Or lead the cheers in someone else’s game and never learn to play
And see the rules of thumb are all the same that measure every day
The grass is green on both sides of the hill, there’s no time to kill
—    Lyrics to Clint Black’s “No Time to Kill”

Time is the one thing that’s promised to no one. Yet it is the one thing we all squander. Worse yet, as time does it’s proverbial march some of us simply put our lives on snooze mode or wait for it to wind down.
Thirty-three years ago today on my 29th birthday I promised myself two things: I would not turn 30 still weighing 320 pounds and I wouldn’t be embarrassed or have any regrets turning 60.
On the first vow I hit the 30-year mark weighing 190 pounds. I’m at 170 today. On the second promise I’ll admit the first part was about being self-conscious which 33 years ago had everything to do with my weight. As an aside to those people who think they are doing an overweight person any favors by constantly reminding them they are fat, don’t pat yourself on the back. I don’t know of anyone including myself that’s lost weight because of people belittling them. And given how those people have managed to give the scales a major workout in the years that followed there must be karma.
As for the second part there have been no regrets — just setbacks. That’s not a bunch of malarkey. 
There’s a lot of truth in adages such as “it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all” and “time heals all wounds.”
At the risk of sounding trite if I had the chance to instill one strand of understanding into the heads of anyone 25 and younger it would be whatever pain or loss you suffer you need to keep focused on the road. Your journey through life will continue and will take you to places you can’t yet imagine. A mistake, a financial setback, a failure, or having your heart ripped apart doesn’t turn into quicksand that will slowly destroy you unless you keep wallowing and adding tears of self-pity.
Today I intend to be starting a hike in a place I’ve never been before almost to the minute I was born 62 years ago today. It’s a place called China Hole — a natural pool — tucked away in the 87,000-acre Henry Coe State Park.
From what I’ve read it’s an oasis in late spring and early summer with water as deep as 8 feet accented by a sandy beach and plenty of boulders. If I do anything once I’m at China Hole that’s a 10-mile loop hike it’ll be to stretch out on the boulders.
While I’m sure I’ll enjoy the spot, the hike — like all that I take — are not all about the destination. It’s the journey.
That point was made clear to me in an encounter eight years ago in the Panamint Mountains above Death Valley. I was coming back down the switchbacks from the 9,064-foot summit of Wildrose Peak when I encountered a much older man with a walking stick who seemed to be struggling with the climb.
My greeting was, “it’s worth it.”
His response delivered with a huge grin was, “it already is.”
Long story short, when he retired as an engineer from Hewlett-Packard at 65 he didn’t want to waste his life away. Even though he had never been a hiker, he decided he was going to hike every “hikeable” peak over 7,000 feet in California. The day we crossed paths it was his fifth time up Wildrose Peak. He was 85 at the time.
I may not be able to convey to you how hiking the Sierra, the Coastal Range, Death Valley and places like the White Mountains helps to clear my mind, give me perspective and bring a joy to my heart I can’t understand myself at times, but I do know this — we all need to feel alive whether we are 21, 62, or 99.
It’s been said that the odds of you being born is one in 400 trillion given the various combinations between eggs and sperm and the right father and mother. Whether that is a true number the odds have to be astronomical. Then there are the odds of you making it to a live birth not to mention living to 62.
I’m sure figuring it out would be a happy challenge for a math nut but you don’t have to be a whiz at numbers to figure out if you’re alive you have been given an incredible gift — the opportunity of a lifetime.
It’s why Clint Black nailed it. There’s no time to kill.

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209.249.3519.

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