The Hourglass of our Life.
“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” - Macdonald Carey, welcoming viewers to the “Days of Our Lives” with a large hourglass (my mom’s favorite soap opera)
I’ve always been intrigued by the reliability of an hourglass. One hour later, 85,000 grains of sand have drained, and we have 60 fewer minutes in our lives. If we lined up an hourglass for our whole life, we would have more than 700,000 hourglasses.
Let’s take this metaphor and imagine we slow it down to a singular hourglass representing our whole life with one grain of sand dropping every eight hours. When we’re young, we don’t even notice this lifelong hourglass as it’s completely veiled by life in the form of a large draped curtain.
Around our 30s, we notice that the curtain has been raised halfway up so we can see how many grains of sand have poured into the bottom of the hourglass, but the top is entirely obscured by both a curtain and a sheer drape.
At 50, the draped curtain continues vertically up with the sheer still obscuring just how many grains of sand remain on the top of the hourglass. Every eight hours, another grain of sand drops to the bottom as the past becomes more noticeable. But, it’s still hard to see through the sheer to determine how many grains of sand are still on top.
And, then, without any prompt, the sheer curtain starts to evaporate such that by age 60, we can start making out how much sand is left in the top. By 70, we can get a sense of what percentage of our life is at the bottom of the hourglass and how much is at the top.
By 80, we appreciate every grain of sand that remains up top. Each grain—representing eight hours—is a reminder that life marches on. Or, as William Blake suggested, “To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.”
I don’t know about you, but - at age 62 - I just want to turn the damn hourglass over again and start from zero, yet with all the wisdom I’ve gained along the way.
Of course, that wiser part of me knows you can’t turn back time with a simple wrist flip. However, we can still cherish, honor, and make the most of each grain of sand we have left.