“Time is what prevents everything from happening at once.” John Archibald Wheeler

Faced with a deadline or a dream, how often have you mused, moaned, or murmured, “If I only had more time . . .”

Guess what? This month, you do!

2012 is Leap Year, that weird calendrical reorganization that happens every four years. That means this February has twenty-nine days instead of the more common twenty-eight, this year has 366 days instead of the usual 365, and you? You have more time.

What are you going to do with it?

Wait, before you answer that question you may be wondering “What’s up with that whole Leap Year thing anyway?” It’s a math thing and math is definitely not my thing but with a little help from our friends at National Geographic I bring you my take on their explanation (any inaccuracies are entirely my own): The earth, as you hopefully know, rotates around the sun, making one complete rotation each year . . . more or less. And therein lies the problem. It actually takes our planet 365.242 days to make it all the way around our flaming friend. In ancient times, months were often based on the moon’s cycles, but that didn’t work out so well, with annual events shifting around so much as a result that harvest festivals sometimes wound up during the planting season. Clearly, something had to be done.

The Egyptians, science whizzes of the ancient world (just look at those pyramids!) figured out the problem and established Leap Year every four years. Cleopatra whispered their idea in her boyfriend Julius Caesar’s ear, and ol’ Jules went back to Rome and founded the Julian calendar, complete with quadrennial Leap Years. So, problem solved, right?

Not so much.

You see, a whole extra day every four years is ever-so-slightly too long with the result that every 128 years the calendar is off by a whole day. By the sixteenth century it was off by ten days, which freaked out then Pope Gregory when he discovered they were celebrating Christmas, Easter, and so on, on the wrong days. He then established the Gregorian calendar, which keeps Leap Year coming every four years unless that year can be evenly divided by one hundred—in which case it is NOT a leap year—unless that year can be evenly divided by four hundred, in which case it IS a leap year.

Still with me? Good. All that matters at the moment is that the every four years cycle is in place until the year 2100, which is 88 years away so I, for one, am not going to worry about it.

“Time is what we want most, but . . . what we use worst.”  — William Penn

So now that you know where your extra day is coming from, the question remains: What are you going to do with this extra twenty-four hours?

Granted, February 29 is a Wednesday, which may limit your options a bit, so if it helps I’m giving you permission to celebrate on a weekend. Now then, what can you do in one day? In one day God created the heavens and the earth, but since we don’t have his resources it might be best to set our sights a mite lower.

What would you do if you had more time? Take 24 hours and do it, or at least make a start. Want to reorganize your closet? You can do that. Take a trip across Europe? Maybe not, but you can buy a guidebook or Google the can’t-miss sights, lay out a route, determine a budget, and set up a savings plan that will get you there.

What if you make that day special by deciding something like, “On this one day I will . . .

  • Look for the bright side of every situation.
  • Check in with God at least once every hour. (You may want to set a timer.)
  • Spend time with my friends. In person. With the cell phones off.
  • Do something nice—anonymously.
  • Call my mom, dad, grandparents . . .
  • Write a letter—a real one, on paper. (Remember paper?)
  • Do something I’ve never done before.
  • Write down every reason I have to be thankful today.
  • Think. Just that: take time to think and dream with no agenda other than letting your mind wander. You may be amazed what your subconscious has been holding on to, waiting for just this opportunity.

You might use this extra day to give back by volunteering, helping a friend or neighbor with a project, or planting a garden. Speaking of gardening, did you know many community food banks accept fresh produce from local gardeners? You green thumb-ers don’t need to worry about getting stuck with enough zucchini for a family of forty-seven; you can donate the extras to families in need.