The Haunting Fragility of Life and How to Recognise the Value of Your Time

How much do you delay to some undefined point in the future? Do you ever catch yourself saying when I retire I want to do X?

Every day I add to my bucketlist of tasks or experiences I hope to achieve when I retire. Take my latest idea: 12 cities, live in each and then fly to the next over the period of an entire year, staying in each for one month gaining exposure to the culture and tempo of each city experientially.

I recently read ‘When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi’ and it changed my life. That isn’t hyperbole, Paul tragically died almost as soon as he reached the pinnacle of his personal and private lifes. Finally a tenured surgeon in his dream role, he discovered he has cancer. He dies before the book ends but what greets the reader before that are these words to his cruelly young daughter, “when you come to one of the many moments in life where you might give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world. Do not, I pray, discount that you filled the dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.”, and after he has passed the book is finished by his wife who recants the loss through eyes of appreciation for the time they were afforded yet elucidates on the pain for their daughter never knowing her father or the fact all their plans will elude them for eternity.

Why do we plan so far ahead? In an instant those thoughts can be taken from us with the onset of disease or an accident which alters our life trajectory. One moment can alter a lifetime of planning and rob us of those things we want the most.

Life is precious and incredibly fragile, hauntingly this only becomes apparent when something tragic occurs, but we assume we are indestructible. We assume our longevity is absolute, like we have a divine right to live to the age of 89 and experience all life’s joy and wonder.

The sad reality is we don’t, and we only realise it when it is too late.

Here’s the deal: we are all terminal. We are all going to dying at some undetermined point in the future but that we will is currently an inevitability tied to human mortality. The fact you have cancer or are in an accident only means it happens sooner.

5 minutes ago I was 18 and in 5 minutes time I’ll be 45. Where does the time go and what have I done? One of life most painful experiences is falling short of your own expectations.

I had a conversation with my mother recently which ventured into the profound. I shared my anguish at having, in my perception, achieved nothing of significance. She laughed and offered that I have already achieved so much and the consolation that I am only 26.

Only 26.

The reality of life is if you don’t prioritise what matters to you now you may never achieve it or have the opportunity to experience the things you want. The same is true of accepting what we have as the only thing we deserve.

If we’re not happy, why do we willingly sacrifice years of our lives in hope of salvaging things. We live by the mantra that things will get better or make the most of a bad situation but we die by the sword of them.

Changing people is futile. We are each who we are and so is everyone else. To try to change people ignores the reality of human phychology. Even faced with the thing we want least in the world, we won’t sacrifice what we currently have to get it.

We are reckless with our time in the present pacified by the assumption that our future will be enriched by the things we hope to do. The flaws in this thinking startles me each day, but I’m party to it. I waste so much time it’s embarrassing.

Seriously take a day to write down the things you do in every minute, I dare you to be completely honest. Record every single tiny detail and I promise you that it will change your life.

We waste our time with reckless abandon because we assume it is infinite. Time is our most precious resource yet we allow it to be stolen by waste. Efficiency is a myth and busyness is the excuse we use to appease our feeling of inadequately spending our time.

We are never as busy as we claim to be, never. We always have more time. We make time for the things at matter, then waste everything else in between.

I appreciate this may be a meandering manifesto of self regret but I hope my efficacy spurs at least a small amount of consideration.

Id far rather look back on a catalogue of incredible experiences shared with the one’s I love than forward not knowing if I’ll make it there or if my loved ones will be by my side.

By all means make a bucket list, but start ticking it off today.

You never know how much time you have left.

Here’s how I’m Spending my Time

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