Leap Year 2016

Well, it sneaked up on me several weeks ago. How about you?

The desk calendar I use for work had a Monday, February 29 on it. And of course, my initial reaction to that is always . . . disbelief. You mean to tell me that four years have already gone by since the last Leap Year?

I suppose so.

I learned the rhyme in school probably 55 years or more ago, and it is stuck in my head as deeply as Columbus and ocean blue: “Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November. All the rest have thirty-one except February, with twenty-eight so fine, and every four years gets one more to make twenty-nine.”

Some think this rhyme dates back to at least the 16th century. It’s a dandy, and I use it all the time, and have done so all my life. Useful stuff, huh?

But I never seem to be able to keep up with the four year anomaly well enough to know when the next one will occur. They sneak up on me every time. I have met a handful of people whose birthday is February 29 (the chance of this happening is 1 in 1500 I have read), so I suppose they might be able to keep track of it better, but . . . I can’t for the life of me figure out how they celebrate the other three years in between their real birthdays!

Leap Year! This is where we try to correlate our Gregorian calendar with the solar calendar. It’s not an exact science of course, but it is an improvement over the old Julian calendar, they say.

It happens that this particular Leap Year will have special significance to me.

Words are “a many splendored thing” (to borrow a phrase from a movie that was popular when I was a senior in high school), they denote, connote, and often come to be representative of quite complex life situations or events.

In 1970 I was a senior in high school in Tucson, Arizona. I had my first real girl friend. My father quit smoking sometime that year. I lost my voice totally with what the gruff ENT doctor said was “acute rhinosinusitis with pharengo laryngotracheitis” (I asked the nurse to write it down for me and I’ve never forgotten it).

It wasn’t technically a “leap year” in 1970, but it was a Leap Year in my life: I was about to embark on my adult journey into life, choosing a direction in college to fashion a career. Lo and behold, Dad decided (after we had long since given up persuading him) that the Surgeon General of the United States and his warnings about cigarette smoking and cancer were to be heeded (although Dad never actually said why he quit, that I recall). Big changes in my life were afoot; that much is clear.

I actually married my wife of now 40 years (come next month) in a Leap Year (1976). And if marriage isn’t a “leap” I don’t know what is!

We speak of “leaps” of faith in life. And we usually are making reference to decisions for which the outcomes are unknown, or shadowy at best. And this year . . . 2016 . . . in a true leap year, I am about to “leap” (stumble, or trip might be more appropriate at this age) into some uncharted life territory. It is veiled in shadow and uncertainty; the unknown.

As many of you know I have held a number of jobs in my life. That’s not how I planned it. But that is how it has been. [See the collection of my wisdom or lack thereof on the subject at http://heartdepot.org/career-junction/]

But the job that has been my mainstay for almost 22 years is about to end in mid-May. It became part-time about 12 years ago (when I thought I was going to go another direction), and I have had to cobble together several jobs at a time to make ends meet, but . . . it has remained my main income and it has been irreplaceable.

Till now, that is.

Because in just 2 1/2 months it will be over. And I will be taking a metaphorical leap, indeed. Well . . . I say “metaphorical.” The leap will be quite real, quite tangible, but the “leaping” metaphor seems to capture the essence. You understand.

Questions abound. Retire early? Draw social security before age 66 and supplement it with one or more part-time jobs? We are praying, deliberating, considering the options at hand, and exploring other job ideas, of course.

But what we will do will become part of our story, and it will be but a page in the saga of our lives. This leap will not define us. Oh, it may set a direction, a course that appears immutable. But that is an illusion. Few things are truly unchangeable.

I struggle over what to decide, of course. Because I don’t want to make a decision that is wrong, or unwise, or less wise than it could be, or . . . . I want to make the perfect choice, arrive at the perfect solution. In short, I want to change the “leap” into a “step.”

But that is not possible with a leap. It is either a leap, or it is not. And a true leap implies risk, possible danger, possible ecstasy, and definite change.

All we have to decide is what to do with time that is given us.”
(Gandalf to Frodo, The Fellowship of the Ring)

There are a great many things in life I do not get to choose: the time and place of my birth, for example. But I do get to decide what to do with the time I am given. And one of those decisions is whether or not to leap.

My father’s leap probably added untold years to his life; he lost something he thought he needed, but . . . he gained something invaluable in its place. The marriage leap I made 40 years ago has brought me love and personal growth beyond my wildest dreams.

I have no reason to expect that this coming LEAP will be any different, do I? In fact, I began this job with a leap, too.

Risk? Resounding Yes!

Uncertainty? Undoubtedly!

“I have had many troubles in my life. But most of them never happened.”
(Mark Twain)

So, bring it on, I say! Come what may. I am lacing up my shoes for the Big Jump, The Leap of faith.

It will be exciting to see where we land.

Photo by Chris Brooks

Photo by Chris Brooks

About ivanbenson

I am a singer, guitar player, writer, story teller, voice over talent, and heart attack survivor in the Atlanta, Georgia area.
This entry was posted in Family History, Fathers, Stories, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Leap Year 2016

  1. Doug Greenway says:

    Ivan — this Lost Story really spoke to me today. You did well. When I lived on the MS gulf coast for five years, I knew I’d never be much of a boat “captain”. Mainly because I never felt comfortable losing sight of the shore. Leap on, brother.

    • ivanbenson says:

      Ah yes, the comforts of that familiar shore; I know it well. But the only hope for any of us to truly “live” is to let go. Thanks for reading, and sharing your own life’s experience, my friend. You experienced your own Leap Year not too many weeks ago. Glad you are doing well.

  2. I wish I had wisdom to offer about planning where to land, Ivan, but I only know something about the ascent side of your jump: the years of service to Miriam and me, the situations in which you’ve always had our backs. For two decades you have been more than we could ever have hoped for in trustworthiness, reliability, good humor under stress, pleasant demeanor, and lots of smarts. Every day was a leap of faith, maybe in microcosm, but you mastered every one of them, just as you’ll master the big one coming up mid-year!

  3. Monica says:

    Wow, what a great way to think about and face this frightening and challenging season! But one thing I know, we’ll face it together. And God will be there! Let’s jump, sweetie!

    • ivanbenson says:

      What would I do without you? You are my beautiful life-partner, my greatest cheerleader, and the one who holds my feet to the fire. Without you, we would have ceased to be years ago. Yes, let’s take this leap together.

  4. Steve says:

    Ivan–yes, leaps of faith…indescribably difficult at first…no way to calculate outcomes before you leap… but for those who claim to “walk by faith…”–it really is not an option.

    Your encrypted post makes me wonder what you are about to do… but–praying for God’s wisdom and courage to hold you in trusting tension for days ahead.

  5. Suzanne says:

    Really well said – praying for your decision and excited to see what comes next! 🙂

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