“I wish we could do more. Maybe tomorrow we will be in the wrong place at the right time, and have the chance to do our part.”
“The key question to keep asking is, 'Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.' ”
Yesterday a friend told me of a friend of hers who had died unexpectedly. Chris, the man who died, was 49 years old and he died of heart failure while sleeping. As ways to go, that is probably the one of the best one. It’s not the first time I’ve heard of that happening. I knew a guy whom this happened to and he was in his 30’s. Unfortunately, he left behind a wife and young child.
But this got me thinking. I’ve always had this romantic notion that none of us will die before our time. I have always believed that we each have assignments to complete here on earth and when we are done, then God will call us home. Conversely, I’ve believed that if I am still alive, then there is a reason for that and I still have things I can do to make the my world and the world better.
I still believe the second idea. I’m not so sure about the first one. To take the most extreme example, I doubt that all 7,000,000 million men, women and children who were murdered in the Holocaust had fulfilled their purpose in their lives. I’m pretty sure that people who die from cancer, starvation, or because of the negligence of drunk drivers, or from ordinary or freak accidents had finished all they wanted to do. This is an unjust and evil world. Things are not fair.
Here is a fantasy for my life. I live until I’m 100. I am robust and healthy and I get a lot done. Then one night, like Chris, I die in my sleep. What a perfect life! But life is not perfect. I could die tomorrow. Or tonight. Or right now while I’m typing away. My heart could give out with no warning.
Here’s how my friend described Chris. He was:
“a very peaceful fun loving guy, single guy, a storm chaser, who lived in Boston, never married, no kids, a great chef, could spin a great story, loved the Red Sox. He had Asperger's and he was painfully shy around women so some of them used him. He really never saw the bad in anyone. He called himself a "Peace Monk, He was born on the 4th of July. He was hoping to get his own TV show storm chasing. He was a nut about that stuff.”
This does not sound like a man who was finished with his work. So what does this mean? I don’t know. But it seems that many people, maybe all of us, might die without all of our dreams or purposes being filled. The optimist in me would like to believe otherwise, but I have to look at the evidence. It’s very possible that I won’t finish everything I was designed to do.
Yet, rather than de-motivating or discouraging me, this understanding actually does the opposite. It puts me under a little bit of pressure, but in a good way. It helps me to realize that I don’t have an infinite amount of time. As Brian Tracy says, I am motivated to “eat that frog,” to do the things I need to do rather than orient my life around relaxation and ease. This doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy life or relax. What it does mean is that I should be aware of every moment to see if I am in Purpose.
This motivates me to do the following:
- Spend more time with the people I love.
- Write every day.
- Be kinder.
- Work more diligently.
- Wait before I get angry.
- Laugh more.
- Be more patient.
- Honor my commitments to myself and to others.
- Work towards my goals more consistently.
- Let go of things that are holding me back.
There are probably others, but those are the ones that come to mind immediately. Time is short. It gets shorter every day. I already waste and have wasted too much time. And as I, and many others, have said, money can be replaced, but time cannot.
While writing this, I have been dealing with time issues. I was supposed to start my radio show, but I left my phone at home. By the time I realized this, it was time to start my show. So I rushed home, but of course, I hit every red light possible and the lights were made longer because of pedestrians. There seems to be some sort of correlation between being late and encountering more-than-normal delays creating more lateness. (Then, when I got home, I couldn’t find my phone so I can’t do today’s radio show. I’m not happy about that, but there’s nothing else to do but to focus on another goal.)
I am grateful for the time I have been given. I am sorry for the time I have misused. I am committing to using my time differently. No matter what I gain or achieve in this life, time is the only thing I really have left. Fortunately, there’s still enough time to Get Started and Keep Going.