Yesterday, the Torah portion devoted a lot of ink to talking about how many days Abraham and Sarah lived. Not the total years, the days.

The reason, the Sages say, is that this reading, Chayei Sarah, is supposed to convey the idea that what you do with your days determines your true age – rather, how productive you are with your life matters more than how long you live.

An interesting concept. Do you devote a day to ruminating over the way that person spoke to you and feel bitter, resentful or angry? Or do you devote a day to being of service, helping others, facing the world with love and smiles?

The latter will get you farther.

If you know me at all, you know I’m fascinated by words. Well, in a particular Psalm (90:10) on this matter, the word strength is used. But it’s not the typical word for strength in Hebrew, which is chazak, meaning physical strength. It’s gevurah, which is more than physical – it’s perseverance, staying the course, stick-to-it-ive-ness.

What type of strength do you exhibit in the face of challenge? Are you making the most of your talents and skills? Are you contributing – or standing back and watching the crowd?

As a devoted Type-A doer, I am not a fan of watching time pass. I feel better when getting things done, when making progress. And now I have a different way to look at it.

Turning 40 (3 years ago) was a wakeup call for me. It felt like a turning point, a question mark staring me in the face and demanding to know whether I am making a difference in this world. At 40, it felt like I was halfway through life (although I hope I live beyond 80) and I’d better be sure that everything I do adds up to meaningful.

I loved that year. I set about doing a project where I would do 40 things that make the world a better place, and I looked for places and people to give of my time and my resources.

Without that motivation, I find time just floating past. I no longer have a mission to give, give, give – it’s just inherent – which means it’s not top of mind, not a beacon in the fog.

We need the kick in the pants to truly get out there. To make a meaningful difference.

All the days of your life…what do the days add up to?

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