Tuesday, May 29, 2012

This is it.

Every day, every second, we're spending our most valuable currency - time.   We have so little of it. I've mentioned this speech before by David  Foster Wallace.  It starts like this:

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys, how's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?"

Time is like that.  It's so much a part of our daily experience, that often we hardly notice it.  Sure, we're marking our calendars and yammering about being so busy, but we're so caught up in our lives, sometimes we don’t stop to think about how we’re spending them.  Wasting time is worse than throwing away good, hard-earned money.  And we wouldn’t do that, would we?  I can think of ways to make more money, but time is out of our control.   I wish I could advocate that we all quit our jobs and spend the rest of our time doing only things that are exciting and fulfilling (ideally on a sunny beach), but that’s just not possible.  Someone has to pay the cell phone bill, right?  I think the best we can do is to formulate a plan.  A certain amount of tedium will exist in everyone’s life because even in this era of modern appliances, smartphones, stock markets, and genetic engineering, there are tasks to be done that only you can complete.  

Try hiring someone to wait in the MVD line to renew your license.  Probably not going to fly. 

I propose the following hierarchy.  First, sort properly.  I have wasted precious minutes and hours on people who don’t deserve it.  People who do not add to the quality of your life on a regular basis should not be a part of it.  It’s that simple.  I’m not saying that the next time your wife is a pain-in-the-ass you should ditch her.  We’re all like that sometimes, but overall the people in your life should be loving and supportive.  They should make you feel encouraged and empowered and if they do not, you’re doing it wrong.  Do the same with the major tasks in your life.  We all need to take more responsibility for our lives.  If you hate your job, you should change it.  If your relationships are not making you happy, change them.  There are two ways to do this:  work to make them better, or remove them from your life altogether.  I speak from experience when I say that for some of us, guilt and/or obligation serve to trap us in situations that are less than ideal.  Don’t let that happen to you.  This is it.  Unless someone can prove to me otherwise (and this post is not intended as a forum for debating religion, reincarnation, etc.), this is our one and only shot at this.  Once we grow into adults, letting other people control our lives is irresponsible. 

Another way of legitimately giving ourselves more time is to take better care of ourselves physically.  I'll admit, I have a lot of room for improvement on this one.  :)

Once you’ve sorted out the bad stuff, start making the most of what you’ve got left.  Even on those days when you have to work hard, take joy in that.  Look at every day as a chance for excellence and don’t waste it.  An excellent life can mean different things to different people.  It can even mean different things to me depending on the day. Find out what makes you personally happy and stubbornly pursue that.  Do your best to make yourself happy.  You have a right.  This is your life.

Reading back over this, I can see how this may seem selfish.  Maybe.  But, that old saying about loving yourself first so that you can love others is true.  Here are some places to visit to inspire you to happiness.  

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