Saturday, July 3, 2010

Seize the Day - Sobering Thoughts as Time Runs Out

I've expressed these thoughts before, nearly a year ago when few people were listening. But they're so important, I'm sharing them again...

Nearly half a century ago, when I was in high school, I fell in love with the smartest girl in my class. After graduation we went to separate universities, and we eventually lost touch with each other. Still, I always wondered what happened to her, and none of the classmates I reconnected with knew anything about her.

And then, a few years ago, I was lucky enough to find her on the Internet, and we've since exchanged several emails. She's been happily married for over 40 years, has two fully grown children, lives on a horse ranch, and is an award-winning high school chemistry teacher. It's almost exactly the best-case-scenario kind of life I sometimes imagined for her, and I'm delighted that things have turned out so well.

But I've had a sobering thought: she is now a grandmother, and her son is twice as old as we were the last time we saw each other.

This thought may seem strange to a young person - the idea that there aren't an unlimited number of grains of sand in your life's hourglass, and most of them have already emptied out.

With luck everyone achieves this perspective. And the sooner the better, because it grabs your attention. Once you acknowledge that your days really are numbered, you get a sense of urgency to seize the day, focus on what you care about most, and avoid wasting the time you have left.

Open your eyes to what's happening right in front of you, right now. While you're still alive, live each moment as completely as you can.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .


Sean said...

While I agree with the sentiment, I think people should get better advice on this topic. It's not enough to just carpe diem and live your life. That still doesn't tell you what you should be doing!

This problem has been on my mind some lately as I am now in my 40's and I've been doing one type of career for 20 years. Growing up, most people I knew had two careers, dividing their adult lives roughly into two 20-year segments; here are some examples:

* army sergeant major and then 5th grade social studies teacher
* housewife and then math teacher
* army trainer and then small business owner

Of course, there were counterexamples... the guy who was a dentist for 45 years... the guy who was an arborist his whole life... the guy was a schoolteacher his whole life... etc.

Still, it leaves me wondering if I should change careers now or stick with the same old crap I've been doing. I don't want to hit retirement age in 20 to 25 years and find out that I regret what I did, that I should have tried this or that. Then again, it is also VERY EASY to choose unwisely, because not all changes are for the better.

news4note said...

It always is better to foresee your end while hurriedly coping with day to day life. Every body born has to die. And that is the only truth. But retirement does not mean in-activeness. Till the final day you can change careers.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to reconnect with the past however it's in the past for a reason. Life went on... I think the past should be left alone.1 in 5 divorces occur in the U.S. as a result of FB reconnections. 1 out of every 2 divorced couples agree that reconnecting on the web endangered their marriage.

Unknown said...

Excellent article. I am also a Vietnam vet facing those remaining days that may be few.
After two grown children and four grandchildren, I can only hope and pray their days may be filled with a minimum amount of pain and sorrow.
I wish I would have been more grateful in life and less judgmental. I should have helped ease the pain and suffering of others. If only I knew then what I feel now.