Tick…Tick…Tick…

Part Two (continued from yesterday)

At some point you will begin to grapple with the limitations imposed by time. Not just the time it takes to do things, to nurture yourself and your relationships, but the amount of time that you have left to do it. At 48, how many “good” years do I have left? Of course, we don’t know. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. But try to put a best guess number on it. I’m referring to years where I feel good and am in good health, feel like doing things, etc.

Is it 20?

Let’s say it is, just for the sake of argument. I’ve been an adult for 30+ years already. I definitely know what a 20 year span of time feels like to live, and how fast it seems to have gone by when looking back. I am realizing I can no longer fool myself into believing I’ll get to all the things I want to experience. I can plan to get to them. But when does it happen? A year from now? Okay, then I only have 19 left. When you start counting down the (estimated) years you have left it shines a whole new light on things. It generates an urgency. Because it’s not just about the time available to do something, it’s also about the time left to enjoy the fruits of it.

And what if it’s a lot less time? There is a history of cancer in my family. I drive too fast. Who knows?

There is a line from the movie The Shawshank Redemption spoken by the lead character, Andy Dufresne: “It comes down to a simple choice, get busy living, or get busy dying.”

Sobering.

Time seems to speed up as we age. Where are you on your clock?

If you’re 20 years old, do whatever it is now. If you’re 60 years old, do it now. Waiting is not always a bad thing. In small doses it can give you perspective and help you test your judgment, but waiting is a decision that has consequences. Best case is that next year you have one less year available to enjoy whatever it is you do for yourself. That can be a pretty dear price for a delay. Maybe not so much when you’re 19, but as you get older that year becomes more and more precious. You can’t get that time back.

Until you reach a point where you are counting down instead of counting up there is no way to fully grasp the gravity of this. But trust me, you’ll get there. Everyone does. Choose wisely now, even though you aren’t fully qualified.

Take some risks. Act. At my age I can already see that I have more regrets over things I didn’t do than things I did do. I’ve done some questionable things. I’ve done things that have had dire consequences. Few regrets. They moved me off center and put me on a trajectory to grow. Things I haven’t done, however, in the interest of staying safe…that becomes a load to carry. An unknown.

Good things come to those who wait. Patience is a virtue.

These tranquilizing statements may be true under the right circumstances, but I assert that very often they end up in the abyss along with all of our dreams and good intentions once times runs out.

Don’t wait. Don’t avoid. Hit it head on.

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13 Responses to “Tick…Tick…Tick…”


  1. 1 Anonymous May 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    That’s profound. I can see where you are coming from, but is it doesn’t seem healthy to go through life counting down the years.

  2. 2 David Stewart May 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Right. Wouldn’t want to (and don’t) live counting down. The point is that you can’t ignore that side of it. Everything doesn’t have to happen today. You just have to be honest with yourself about whether you’re moving forward.

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