Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Some suggest that being mindful of the fact that death is just an inch away at any moment, motivates us to live more fully and squeeze all the juice out of life that we can. If this were true we'd have the single most powerful self-help tool ever discovered. Everyone would instantly get how precious and important their life is and the world would be bursting with happy, loving people.
Actually, I think most of us are blissfully unmotivated by our finiteness. We love to live in the illusion of never-land, which is, it-will-never-happen-to-me-land. We like to ignore the uncomfortable things, putting off the inevitable until it's nipping at our heels.
We ignore the projects that are dearest to our hearts. We keep feeding the flames of our grudges and resentments. We let pettiness interfere with telling people how much we love them and how much they mean to us. In short, we willingly waste our present moment either mulling over the past or worrying about the future. Or both. Regrets are daily companions and the only time we aren't concerned about tomorrow is when we reach for the credit card.
But time, if you think about it, is a funny old thing.
- We can have a moment of beauty in which we lose all sense of time.
- We can look back on last year and think it went fast.
- We can look at the clock waiting for lunch and believe time has slowed to a standstill.
- Five minutes awake in the middle of the night can feel like a lifetime.
Like most of life, it is all pretty much made up, isn't it?
But if that's true, that is rather good news. It means there is very little that is solid. And much of what we think is "true" turns out not to be.
For example, when I'm dreading the final editing of my book, I look at the manuscript and think I have 239 pages to go through one by one. Yet again. Just thinking about it slows me down! I'm now influencing my own experience of time.
Yet there have been plenty of days when I worked 12 hours almost straight through and felt refreshed and happy. Suddenly it is midnight, or 1 am and I think, "Wow, it's amazing how time flies!" Time is doing nothing of the sort. It is neither flying nor passing nor stopping.
If time is based on your attitude and personal filters, then surely many more things are too: your impressions of people, your decisions about what's possible, your worries of the future, and so on.
With a real sense of that, I enjoy my time quite a bit. I also get quite a lot done, not because I'm afraid I might die at any moment, but because this moment is so very full, fresh and interesting.
I don't want to get too esoteric about time being just a made-up thing, so for those interested, you might want to pick up Steve Chandler's book "Time Warrior" which contains more practical wisdom on the the bend-ability of time.
Ami Chen Mills-Naim and I also talked about releasing the old on the last show of 2011. That was a great show if you missed it. (click here to listen)
One of the good things about the passing of time is the possibility of seeing our past differently and of finding new grace to move on from regrets and hurt.
The past always teaches us the same lesson: "It's over." (Peruse the chapter on Forgiveness from my book for more ... )