You have 30 minutes to live. What do you do?
1,800 seconds. No joke. Try this mental exercise.
How will you spend these remaining 1,793 seconds?
Will you head to the liquor cabinet in your home and make yourself a strong drink, a double whiskey? Will you entertain regrets of things you did, or did not do, over the course of your life? Will you recall fond memories? Will you at last turn to prayer and reflection?
1,768 seconds and counting.
If you are with your spouse, will you turn to him or her and thank him/her for being such an important part of your life?
Will you consider that perhaps you did not live life as it could have been lived? Ought to have been lived?
Time is the scarcest, most precious resource because it cannot be replaced. When today is gone, it is gone forever.
Are you making the best use of your limited time in this life? Or, are you clinging to activities that do not serve you?
The lesson here is that now and then you take a little time to reflect on your priorities. Yes, we can only live in the present. Yet, we can learn and grow over time. I seem to recall it was Socrates that said that “the unexamined life is not worth living”.
True, this is not as easy as one might think. First, we need to make the time for some honest reflection. In the constant, ongoing competition and struggle to keep body and soul together, we sometimes forget that those around us are human beings who are struggling and face problems as we do. (This is especially true in the constant crush, or “rat race” of an urban setting.) But, let us not allow the daily challenges and frustrations to blind us to the larger picture.
As well, we may need to question the priorities and values that society and our peers try to impress on us all throughout our lives. We need to be aware of this conditioning and pressure and remain sufficiently detached to be objective in our reflections. Society tells us that we have little value unless we have lots of money and lots of expensive toys (to prove that we have lots of money, or good credit standing to live beyond our means). We are told through advertising, movies, television, etc. that physical beauty is very important and that unless we have it, we are not very valuable as people. (Srila Prabhupada (1896 – 1977) referred to this as “animal society”. Society, as a whole, is at a low level of consciousness. But, I digress, and time is precious.)
Moderation is a concept that can help us. We need money to provide the necessities for our families and for ourselves. We work in order to live. We do not live in order to work. Let’s not make a false god of money and material possessions or career success.
How are we using our time?
We ought to want to live our lives more fully. No, I am not suggesting we be thrill seekers constantly in search of new daring activities to experience for an adrenaline rush. But, consider, many adults spend a disproportionate amount of their free time watching television. Now, we are not condemning a little TV viewing. However, one wonders for those television addicts if they are not existing more than they are really living. Instead of watching others in their make-believe lives, or carefully scripted lives on the screen, become more involved in life by getting out of the easy chair and actually doing some thing.
There is an opportunity cost here. If you spend that extra hour each evening sitting and staring at the TV screen, you cannot spend that hour in another activity. What other activities? Consider your priorities! Do you value or want to value family relationships? Then, why not spend an hour with your children? Ask them about their school day. (You may find that you as a parent need to counter balance the nonsense these children are fed in so many of our schools.) Help them with their homework. Are you recently married? Is your marriage important to you? Spend the time with your spouse. Step outside and look at the stars together. Hold hands and just talk with each other. Is better health valuable to you? If you work in an office and spend much of your day sitting, then use this extra hour to lightly exercise. Simply taking a 30 minute or longer walk is good for your health. Try it and see.
Other more “advanced” activities you might consider include doing a little charity work in your spare time, and praying, reflecting, and/or meditating. If personal expression is important to you, try your hand at painting or working with clay, or even writing. I bet you can think of many more worthwhile activities.
1,587 seconds remaining.
Eclectic philosophy, you say? Actually, what I am recommending here is very pragmatic.
Use the balance of your time for reflecting on your priorities. It may be one of the best investments of 1,575 seconds you ever make. No one can do this for you! What do you want to be able to recall as your achievements when your time on earth winds down? Would you like to be fondly remembered as having been a loving and generous person? Someone who made life a little brighter for those around you?
As well, you want a better, more fulfilling, meaningful life now. Keep in mind that it is the journey, and not the destination, that we need to embrace and experience fully right now – even with all the ups and downs, the rough sailing, along the way.
Thanks for reading. Practice random and not so random acts of kindness.