Sunday, February 9, 2014

Are You Wasting Your Life?

The other day I was thinking about a well-known poet I once knew, who said to me right out of the blue, "I have wasted my life." I suppose it's the job of poets to be in touch with the truth of things; but I was younger then, and I didn't appreciate what he was talking about.

Also, I once had a mentor who made my life more interesting. A very wealthy man, he was also very gracious; but he thought his money could buy anything. The best thing he did for me was to introduce me to the woman who would become my wife. The worst thing he did was to act as if he owned me. Once he started making unreasonable demands of me, we parted ways. That was about 15 years ago, and I never saw him again.

He was an older gentleman when I knew him, and I learned recently that he has since passed away. The news caused me to reflect about a truth that at this stage of my life I feel in my bones: a human life is very, very brief.

Time is a relative thing, of course. From the perspective of our unimaginably vast universe, however, 100 years is like the blink of an eye. Maybe this analogy will help. According to scientists, our universe has been around about three times as long as our sun. But let's compare a human life-span with how long the sun has existed, which is about 5 billion years. Let's say the distance from Los Angeles to New York City, shore to shore, represents 5 billion years. A human life, then, would be like placing a pea on the water's edge of one of the shores.

That's not much, man. But that's all you get - max. Not many people live to be 100 years old.

The point is, time is running out.

Every minute you spend paying attention to nonsense is a waste of your time.

Every minute you spend in the company of negative people is a waste of your time.

Every minute you spend trying to be what other people want you to be is a waste of your time.

Every minute that you're doing something other than that which is truly important to you is a waste of your time.

A wasted life feels empty and pointless, but it's so easy to do in this so-called modern world.

Someday you may be close to the end of your life. If you feel regret for how much of it you wasted, it will be too late to do anything about it.

The more you live in the present moment - not thinking of the past, not wishing for the future - the more precious your life will be.

The more you make use of your talents and potential to contribute something worthwhile, the more precious your life will be.

The more time you spend with authentic, positive, giving people, the more precious your life will be.

The more you spend time really focused on the natural world, the more precious your life will be.

In a world that seems to be drowning in craziness and nonsense, it's hard to follow this advice. But I'm just offering some encouragement. Your time is like a pea on the edge of a continent, and it's rushing by a lot faster than you think it is. Try not to waste any of it. A life well-lived can seem like a 1000 years.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2014. Building Personal Strength .

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