I love leap years. To be more precise, I love February 29. I don’t recall anything particularly memorable happening on February 29, however since I was a little girl I always marvelled that a leap year means you get one more day.
As a child I remember sitting at my wooden desk, listening to Miss England explaining that this year was a leap year. It was 1960 and it was the first time I had ever heard of such a thing. I wondered how children could celebrate their birthday if it only happened every four years. I wondered how anyone could commemorate a significant event if it fell on February 29. It consumed me for years.
Someone, perhaps my father told me, after I shared with him my lingering concern over birthdays on February 29, that he imagines people born on February 29 would celebrate their birthday on March 1 on the non leap years. I thought that was grossly unfair and felt dreadful for every person ever born on February 29.
It was around that time, aged 7 that I began to fall in love with astronomy. I loved that the Earth revolved around the sun creating the seasons, and how it rotated on its axis at the same time. I became a star watcher. Still am. It took me longer to understand why we have one more day every four years. Briefly, leap years are needed to keep our modern day Gregorian calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun.
It takes the Earth approximately 365.242189 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds – to circle once around the Sun. This is called a tropical year.
However, the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a year, so if we didn’t add a leap day on February 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by around 24 days!
One More Day
When my father died I spend most of the first year imagining what I would have done differently had I known he would not be alive the next day. All I’ve come up with is that I would have hugged him longer. I miss hugging him.
The idea of having one more day often brings up thoughts around my own mortality. If I only have one more day to live what would I say, and to whom would I say it? What would I do? Who would I want to share that day with?
Too late for bucket lists. I only have one more day.
The truth is I am more clear about what I wouldn’t do that day than I am about what I would do. Here are a few things I came up with.
I certainly wouldn’t waste a minute complaining about anything.
I wouldn’t worry.
I wouldn’t blame anyone.
I wouldn’t wish a second away.
I wouldn’t censor myself.
I wouldn’t go shopping.
I wouldn’t stay in doors, no matter what the weather.
I wouldn’t touch a computer, ipad, phone.
I wouldn’t talk much.
Mitch Albom writes,
“It’s such a shame to waste time. We always think we have so much of it.”
Life would certainly take on a different hue if we lived even one day a week as if we don’t know how long we’ve got. But choosing the day, deciding this is it. I’m going to live today as if its my last, is never an easy choice to make. I can’t do it today, I have a dental appointment. Oh and tomorrow, I have to pick up the kids and take them to ballet, violin, soccer and swimming. Maybe next Tuesday. Um, oh hell! Tuesday. Tuesday I have to see my accountant, play bridge, shop and cook dinner for Wednesday ‘s book club.
May be next week.
Life can be so crammed with things to do that only ten minutes after you have rushed past that busker playing the violin outside the train station you think, damn, I meant to stop and listen to him and give him a coin, but I forgot. And you go back the next day and he’s not there.
Busy life= missed opportunities.
And don’t get me wrong, there will always, always be missed opportunities, I have a million of them, but I’m sure, well I’m almost sure, that if we lived just one day a week as if it were our last, there would be more opportunities gathered than lost. And if one day a week seems too hard, then maybe one day a month. My guess is that the more I practice living one delicious, unbeatable, incredible day at a time, I’ll probably get better at it.
“One day spent with someone you love can change everything.”
If I had one more day left I think I would ask my children to tell me about their favourite experience. I think I would ask more question and listen with every cell in my body. I think I would eat some ice cream after sharing a bowl of hot chips. I would laugh and cry and maybe I would plant a tree after reading The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein to my grandchildren. That book always, always leaves me in tears. Ask my granddaughter she’ll tell you. I literally sob at the end.
I think if I had one more day I would give everything I have loved away to my children and my friends. I would want to see them smile and imagine the pleasure they with receive from that little piece of my life. And I think if I had one more day, just one more earthly spin around its axis, I would quietly close my eyes and breathe, and with every breath I would take in the sweetest memories from every stage in my life, and breath out waves and waves of gratitude that this was my story.
Yup! I think that’s what I’ll do