By this evening, the first week of Chautauqua Institution's 2012 season will be half over.
That is how quickly time will fly this summer.
Between now and the final thoughts of the closing program at the other end of August, Chautauqua is serving up a rich schedule of programs, discussions, lectures, concerts, theater, opera, dance - enough to fill your heart and renew your soul.
This week's morning discussions opened with Norman Lear and Roger Rosenblatt. They will come to a close Friday with Emma Walton Hamilton and her mother, Dame Julie Andrews.
That's just the first week of the 10:45 a.m. lecture series. Eight more weeks of full programming will follow, each packed with opportunities to listen to, talk with and learn from some of the best thinkers and doers of our time, to take inspiration from the morning sermons, to meet the authors of books everyone is reading and talking about, to simply kick back and enjoy a pops concert in the evening.
In his remarks opening the 2012 season on Sunday, Chautauqua President Thomas M. Becker talked about our nation needing a community of people dedicated to a learning-centered life.
''We carry both the privilege and the obligations of living in the oldest democracy on the planet,'' Becker said. ''We have the legacy of a government of the people, for the people and by the people. This system is participative, messy, open, and broadly expressed.
''We do not assign the sole responsibility for building the Beloved Community to our elected leadership. We retain personal accountability for justice in our communities beginning with our internal sense of right and wrong and our individual behavior resulting from that sense in every aspect of our lives,'' he said.
''This Institution exists in service to these noble obligations. We believe that in order for us to fully realize the propositions of this free society we need a community of people dedicated to a learning-centered life,'' he said.
We will, by the way, publish his opening remarks, titled ''A Listening Heart,'' in full on Sunday.
Some years ago we described Chautauqua as an old friend who opens his home to visitors from the world over but who always puts out a special welcome mat for neighbors - for us - with an invitation to drop by any time to take our place in that community.
The invitation still stands.