It’s been one year since I wrote my first column for the Merritt Herald and when I sat down to write the latest instalment I wondered if time just speeds up as we get older and how it’s possible that we’re already in the last quarter of 2023. I also thought about what changed in the last year and what stayed the same. Last year around this time we were getting ready to vote in the municipal election – remember that? Plenty of candidates for both mayor and council and as soon as the election was over things got quiet; now I have to think hard if you asked me who is governing our city despite all candidates vowing to do better than their predecessors and really connect with the citizens and give regular updates. Different people, same m.o. Surprise, eh? 

Of course, to notice a change in something it has to be important to us and we have to pay attention. There has been a lot of change in the things and for the people I care about: new jobs, new apartments, an upcoming wedding, new illnesses, old illnesses getting worse, it’s a pretty long list. I’ve changed too. Now, more than ever, time is the most precious commodity to me. While I need to measure some of my time in money out of necessity, the time I can give freely is guarded even more closely. I don’t think it’s possible to only do things that make you happy but it’s possible to use your time in meaningful ways. Building strong relationships and being there for the people and causes you care about is one of the best ways to spend your time. It’s not just about you anymore, but at the same time it makes your life better. How cool is that?!? 

In Merritt and the Nicola Valley there is no shortage of people and causes that want your time and attention. I want you to be picky with what you’re volunteering for. Don’t give your time for the sake of it, make it count and make sure it enriches your life rather than sucking the life out of you. Because before you know it another year will have passed and you’ll be wondering where the time went. How great will it be when you look back and can say you had a positive impact on someone else’s life – and also on your own.

– Kerstin Auer is a columnist for the Merritt Herald.