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Savor the present moment

Scott Boyle | Tuesday, April 30, 2013

“It’s time to leave.” Growing up, I heard these words almost daily as my parents tried to move my brothers and I from school to sporting events to rehearsals. To be frank, the Boyle household was more like an airport than a home during those early years – there was always someone coming and going, save, of course, for the brief layovers to refuel.  
Our kitchen was the “control tower,” the command center for the head air traffic controllers (my parents) who coordinated complex travel schedules seven days a week to make sure my brothers and I got where we needed to be. “Refueling” was carefully orchestrated too. Water bottles were always being filled and free hands tossed around bananas that had to be eaten quickly in order to make the next practice or rehearsal on-time.    
Although both my parents worked full-time jobs, they did their best to manage the ever changing “radar” that may be properly called our calendar. Tuesdays and Thursdays meant school, swim practice and piano lessons. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays meant school, theater class, baseball and choir. Of course, cancellations, weather and coach/teacher schedules changed that weekday schedule frequently. Add to that the other games, errands, mass and chores that demanded time on weekends and you had a recipe for adventure!.
Although my parents made a herculean effort to ensure they were prepared and organized, we boys were a different story entirely. We liked to practice the ancient art of selective hearing. Precious minutes would tick by as we neglected our parents’ departure warnings and instead played more ‘NBA2K’ on our Sega Dreamcast before practices or caught some sleep on Sundays before mass. It wouldn’t be long then before the regular calls of “It’s time to leave” would turn to yells. The Sega would get unplugged and the sheets would be forcibly pulled back from our beds in order to get us out the door.   
Those words, “It’s time to leave,” have a different sort of meaning for me now.  No longer am I just preparing to leave the house for yet another practice or rehearsal. Now, I am preparing to leave Notre Dame, a place I have called home for the majority of five academic years and four summers.
As the end of this year draws near, I have found myself asking a lot of questions. “Who do I need to see?” “What do I need to do to make these last few weeks memorable?” “Is there anything I have left unfinished?”
I have found myself looking at the calendar more frequently, counting down the days until I no longer relate to campus in the same way. Time, it seems, is a luxury now.
Chances are all of us have had to leave something at certain points in our lives. Perhaps seniors are feeling similar sentiments as they prepare to graduate. Or perhaps those who are studying abroad are wondering how best to cherish these final moments before journeying away for a time. Perhaps some of us are worried about transitioning jobs, relationships or moving to a new city. No matter what stage of life we’re in or what we are facing, the future can be intimidating.
But Mitch Albom makes an interesting observation in regards to this fear in his novel “The Time-Keeper: “All around [us], timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. The dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.”
Perhaps, as Albom observes, the key to our futures lies actually within our present, in the birds, the dogs and the deer. What if we, like them, spent time savoring the present moments, the places and the people that surround us now? In doing this, we may discover – as Albom notes – that “the very next moment may be an answer to [our] prayer.” Our very next breath, conversation or encounter may present an opportunity that calms our fears and gives us the peace to follow our dreams. Albom writes, “To deny that is to deny the most important part of the future: hope.” What if we became men and women who lived with this hope in the future? Our futures might just end up looking beautiful too.
In the book, Father Time remarks, “God limits our days to make each one precious.” My time here at Notre Dame has been limited, but only so the education and formation I have received does not stay here, but travels with me to the world. We are called to be people of hope. We are called to model that hope to the world.

Scott Boyle is a graduate of Notre Dame and an intern in the Office of Campus Ministry. He can be reached at
    The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.