Tempus Fugit


“I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.  And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “  Luke 12:12-19 (NIV)

Latin was a real problem to me as a language.  That course alone almost caused me to flunk out of my private high school that my father had paid a lot of money to send me to. I had never studied a foreign language before, much less one that had been dead for many centuries.  No one speaks Latin any more, so there is no real way to practice it with others (unless they are in your class, of course).  Still, what I learned has been helpful in a variety of contexts since Latin is the mother language to most of the romance languages – French, Italian, and Spanish.  It also is useful in English because many of our words are derived from Latin words.  It turned out being useful in law school, because many doctrines of the law which use Latin phrases, such as res ipsa loquitor, which literally translated means the facts (or the “thing”) speaks for itself.   That phrase is used in the law of negligence where on can infer from the nature of the accident or injury to show that a person was negligent without any other evidence.

Yesterday, I rode my bike for a nice long run and came across the barn pictured above. I had shown it to Timothy and Hannah Olonade when I gave them a quick tour of Pinehurst last week.  He couldn’t believe that horses, not people, lived in a structure so large.  Every time I pass this barn, I think of the above passage and its application.  In a way, the phrase res ipsa loquitor applies – the huge barn needs no additional commentary or explanation and it is a clear reminder of the values and motivations of its owner. Mind you, I am not knocking barns, even smaller ones, but this one in particular houses pleasure horses, not grains for others to eat in the future.  This barn is for the pleasure of the owner. Period.  It is a hobby.  It’s as if the owner said to himself I have all of the financial bases covered, so I am going to relax and enjoy my life and my horses.  On my way home, I passed a traffic accident at an intersection that I had passed through minutes before.  No one appeared to be hurt, but it reminded me as to how precious life is, and how we often take it for granted.

The Latin phrase in the title is a reminder of the second part of the Luke 12 passage.  We have a finite amount of time on this earth – and in the case of the owner of the barns in the scripture, God says that his life will end this very night.  Tempus fugit means “time flies” and the connotation of it is that time already spent is irretrievable.  You can’t get it back.

When my father died about 20 years ago, I spoke at his funeral and one of the things I said was that I wanted to live life without regrets.  Regrets of not saying something to someone or doing something for your family or friends.  Simple things:  telling your parents, your wife, children and grandchildren that you love them.  Since his death, I have added to my goal of living life without regrets the biblical concept of finishing well.  Retirement is not a scriptural concept – in fact retirement is not used in the Bible.  But you don’t have to wait until you are old and no longer working to finish well.

If you want to finish well in life, then you should finish well today!.

That’s my challenge to you – how are you going to finish well today?  We can’t change yesterday, but we can change what we do today. Ponder that thought so that you, too, can live life without regrets.

Bill Mann







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