Consider the hourglass!

Hey readers, this week’s narrative is for you personally. Each of you. So before reading any further, take a glance at the picture of the hourglass and imagine that that’s you seated in the top. If not you, envision someone else you know and care about sitting there. Imagine further that the sand beneath you is slowly slipping out into the bottom.

Hold your image for now.

Now in response to my rapid-fire writings on so many topics, three great individuals – one a Georgia-based musician, the second a Seattle-based coffee entrepreneur, and the third a writer and playwright in Virginia – asked me, in different words, where I get my enormous bursts of energy from. 

“Dude, what are they spiking your coffee with down there in Georgia? Asked one. “Please send me a dose of whatever it is that you’ve been injecting,” said another. “You are like the proverbial bull in a China shop,” mused the other.

“Hey, my clock’s running out,” I responded. That got a laugh and a “yep, I’m with you on that brother!” 

I then returned to continue writing my forthcoming book, “Through the years….the storied history of black Augusta County athletes!” and realized that time is indeed running out in scheduling interviews with some of those athletes, many of whom are in their late seventies, eighties and early nineties. 

Now back to your hourglass, “timestamp” your life next to its beginning when it was full in the top. What filled up during your early years – family, friends, schoolmates, etc.? What decisions did you make that impacted you and the lives of others? What were some of your regrets, if any?

When I practised that “exercise,” I thought about friends, former classmates, family members and others who are no longer alive, who have ascended to the bottom of the “glass.” I thought about how they got there and the conditions in life that put them there. The “why them, not me?” question tugged at me. I also pondered the decisions I made and thought about my regrets.

I then shifted to thinking about how the hourglass plays out in other aspects of life beyond personal relationships and decisions. 

Back to you readers. 

Ponder for a moment the glass stem that separates the top of the glass from the bottom and how we sometimes widen that stem in ways that hasten our flow to the bottom. Alcohol? Drugs? Poor diets? Bad relationships? Debt? Layoff? Add a few of your own to the list.

Turning now to your personal bucket list, things you can do while there’s time. For example,  

– finishing that book you never got around to finish writing or reading

– making that phone call you never got around to making

Issuing that apology you never made

– updating that will you never got around to updating

– attending that child’s game/ballet performance you were always too busy to attend 

– getting that colonoscopy you kept putting off

– visiting that dying relative or friend

– restoring the trust someone lost in you

– repaying the money someone lent you

– cutting up those credit cards

Pause and ask yourself…. “What else have I wanted/meant to do but haven’t? “ 

Questions for a thoughtful analysis:1. What are the consequences for constantly “putting stuff off?” 2. If you were given a “do over,” a chance to correct something you did or said to someone who has passed on, what would that look like?3. What are the possibilities for using the hourglass as a prompt for setting your goals and developing a personal action plan?4. How might you use the hourglass as a teaching tool for those early in the top to avoid bad decisions that may hasten their flow to the bottom?

In closing and in parting, here’s one more question: no, wait, the engine warning light on my Jeep’s dashboard just lit up. I should kick myself in the behind for not getting that repair done months ago.

© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer and storyteller. He is also a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, The American Diversity Report, The Atlanta Business Journal, The Shenandoah Valley Hit,, The Echo World, the Appreciate You Magazine, The Valley Trail and co-founder of the “26 Tiny Paint Brushes” writers’ guild, and recipient of the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership Award. He can be reached at


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