Here’s Your History in One Picture and Ten Words
5 ways to make your remaining days count more.
Yes, I promised to tell you this brief story of my (and your) life in a picture and ten words. You can jump to the picture at the end to grab it right away.
But, you will miss the “how I’m learning to ensure my remaining days count more” part. Less impatient souls, please read on.
You see, time isn’t going anywhere. We’re the ones passing away — fast.
It was on one of those days back when my now adult son was still in kindergarten. That morning, we were all set for church and for our Sunday worship service. We were all heading out of the house. But, our young man was insistent on delaying all of us a few more minutes with his endless antics.
Prodding him to speed up, his mum’s voice rang out, “Bobby, we don’t want to get late to the church today.” The young man replied in a voice such as was typical for a man of his age. Nonplussed, he pointed at the wall clock as he quipped
“Time is not going anywhere, time is still hanging on the wall there.”
These days, we smile as we recall that comical but true clip.
1. “Time” ain’t going nowhere
The rich and the poor are both allotted the same amount of time.
The difference between the two classes is that one uses his time more productively. As reported by Bloomberg, in 2019, the world’s fastest-growing billionaire grew his wealth by over $981,000 per hour.
For the average Joe working for a minimum wage of $25 per hour for 8 hours per day, it will take him not less than ten years of working time to make or save that much money.
The unemployed are completely out of the equation.
Every one of us has an average life span of 70 years or 613,620 hours.
The implication is that the countdown to the remaining days of life (yours and mine) is ticking away at 24 hours per day, 184 hours per week, or 8,760 hours per year. If you’re in your 50s you have 262,800 hours left (for an expected life span of 80 years).
If you are reading this, then you are one of those that escaped the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, how many days do you still have to walk on terra firma?
Think about it.
Last year, I found myself trying to cajole an amiable friend to stop smoking. Without any maligned intent, he has been a chain smoker ever since I knew him twenty-five years ago. Unperturbed, he shrugged off my concerns.
Nonchalant, he told me that as far as he was concerned, he still had 15 years more to live. After I left him, I got serious, thinking aloud and asking myself, “How many years do you think you still have to live on this planet earth?”
Our parents never asked for our permission before we were conceived. And after we were born, is there ever anyone who will not want to live forever or for as long as his heart keeps on beating?
Without sounding morbid, we should come to terms with the brevity of life and its equal measure of brutal experiences.
That none of us is going to be here for long is one thing we can be all certain of. Sooner than later, the expiry date for each one of us comes knocking.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. ~ The Holy Bible (Psalm 90 :12)
These days, I tell my household and friends that every extra day is a bonus. How then do we redeem the time so as make our outstanding days count? How do we treasure the moments left for us?
2. The social media is a double edged sword.
When it comes to using the social media, wisdom is in knowing how to serve oneself well with its ubiquitous tools.
Along with its power to inform, educate, entertain, and perhaps, helping us to make more money, it also comes with what Dr Os Guinness called Weapons of Mass Distraction (WMD).
This is due to its inbuilt capacity to distract, confuse and disorient. It achieves this with its truths buried deep in half truths, misinformation and outright lies.
“Spoilt for choice” as we are, Dr Barry Schwartz explained some of the manifestations of the negative aspects of our fleet of ever increasing options.
The multiplicity of choices leave us always overloaded. The consequences are that we no longer feel liberated but rather debilitated and tyrannized.
Always put limits on the amount of stuffs you consume online by resisting the urge to always “be the first in the know”. You will find out that you have not lost out that much. Rather, you saved more time for the the most important aspects of your life.
As you do this, family, friends, meditation, and other simple joys now take their rightful places.
Not every writ or clip is worth your reading or viewing time. Also, not everything that you read or view is worth you replying to or sharing.
Applying this rule, you will find joy by skipping most of the daily spew of shared from the cyberspace.
The urge to avoid “missing out” and to be always at “the forefront of the know” is a pure waste of time. All the more is this so because whatever you know today becomes obsolete as soon as you know it.
3. Stop procrastinating your life away.
No, this is not a battle that you can win once and forever.
Winning against procrastination, takes consistent personal discipline. More shining toys and apps come daily with their promises of faster and better experiences. These are always contending for our attentions.
Without self-discipline, any goal you set out for will always be a mirage. According to author Julio Lara, “it is very hard to commit to anything when your actions are not driven by clear purposes”.
Without clarity of purpose, the reason for your existence will always be elusive. But, once you discover it, your life’s purpose will make it is easier for you to direct your efforts towards the right end. Afterward, every other thing soon fall into its place.
This does not mean that you will never fall back or relapse back to your old unprofitable habits. With clarity of purpose as your guiding North Star, you are better able to steer your life’s ship through many dark nights of challenges and distractions.
4. Stop gouging on online addiction.
Make use of those same tools to enhance your life and productivity. The COVID-19 lockdown period came with a compulsive stay at home orders for many. This has afforded many the time to read and take advantage of many profitable and even free online courses.
The world is full of the bad, and the ugly - all hunting for your head. Too much of a good thing can kill you too.
5. You just may be running on bonus.
Realize that the time left for you to achieve your life’s purposes is flying away by the hour. No, this does not call for despair on your part. After all, none of us is going to be here for very long.
Know that the seemingly far away future of all the tomorrows that follow tomorrow are nearer than any of us ever thought. And in the grand scheme of things, we all sooner than later past away.
You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
— Martin Luther King Jr.
Finally, here is the story of life, yours and mine in one picture and ten words.
©Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice, HarperCollins, 2004
©Os Guinness, Fools Talk — Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion, IVP 2015
©Julio Lara, The Discipline Manifesto — Conquering Procrastination and Harnessing Willpower in 5 Steps, Julio Lara, 2015
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This essay was originally published on Medium.