24 September, 2007

Life is Short

A man he worked with died last week. 
It puts everything in perspective - he tells me.
But does it?
Life is short.  This point is made that much more clear as we watch our children mature, see our friends and family age, or when we know someone who falls prey to an illness or death. 
We know that life is short.  We recognize that we are not always spending our time the way we would like to spend it. 
What does it take for us to take action and start taking advantage of our time to the fullest?
A good friend of mine was diagnosed with non-fatal ALS a few years ago - at the  age of 30.  Within one moment he watched his life change.  He will not have or adopt kids; he will not be able to climb mountains and go hiking as he once did.  His expectations and future will be different than anything he ever imagined. 
He is nearly 34, using a walking stick, and knows that within a matter of years he will be in a wheelchair.  He and his wife are taking advantage of time.  Next year they are going to Africa so that he can see all that he has wanted to see - Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro, etc. 
Life is short. 
I want to tell the dad who spends his time on his mobile phone instead of watching his child's soccer game that life is short.  I want to pull the plug on the mom who spends more time at home on the computer than talking to her teen aged daughter about all that she faces and is facing at school.  I feel badly for the couples, friends, people who fail to recognize all that they have preferring to spend their time working, complaining, and regretting.  If even just once a week, is it possible to appreciate and enjoy the moment?   
Although I don't live as each day is my last, I do work hard to appreciate the time I have with the Diva.  I want to savor my life. 
I rarely blog at home (even now that I can no longer comment from my work computer).  I try not to spend hours on the phone or at the computer.  Instead, together we explore nature, the stores, history.  When the weather is nice, we like to be out and about.  We talk, we read... we share our lives and our time. 
"I can do it tomorrow" doesn't always work. 
What does it take for us to recognize that life is about more than our work? 
How do we learn that we work to live rather than living to work?


JustRun said...

I think, sadly, reminders are around us all the time. I feel like the key is to recognize those reminders.

Michael C said...

For me, it was preparing for open heart surgery at 31 years old two summers ago. I appreciate things much more now and the family is what it's all about.

Wombat said...

As Michael underlines, a sense of our mortality makes a big difference.

You're friend's battle with ALS hints at a way for those of us not so affected can think: if we all behaved like we have one year to live, we'd do many things differently.

Scotty said...

I always tell people to work to live rather than the opposite.

As for the reminders, usually they come from other people... re prioritizing what you do and remembering what is truly important.

An Ex's little brother (10) once asked me to visit him and I told him that I was unable to, because I had to work. He asked why I worked so much (at the time it wasnt much, but he was more focused on the fact I couldnt make it). I told him that I work so much today, so that when I have kid(s) of my own I can spend lots of time with them, just as his father is able to spend lots of time with him.

cathouse teri said...

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."

Yes, life is short, so you must be sure you are not taking the moments for granted.

Also, life is long, so you must be sure you are not spending it miserable.

Laughing Boy said...

i find it is a constant battle - to be able to live the way you want to live financially vs living the way you want to live with the family.
note: financially speaking i'm not talking about being bill gates...just being able to buy the kids new shoes, take em to the movies etc.

Ryan said...

I gave the eulogy at my fathers funeral where I concentrated on that exact thing... but looking back, I think that time isn't short - we just have to live for the moment and the decisions that we make in the 'now' time need be thought through.

If you live in the moment, life is never too short.

I may have just started something I won't be able to finish

M@ said...

very true. i tend to throw away my days rather than treating each one like a special event.

AaroN said...

Step 1; Take a job in upper management.
Step 2; Work 60+ hours a week.
Step 3; Realize that you don't accomplish any more in 60 hours than you did in 40 hours, and you're only getting paid for 40 hours anyway.
Step 4; Notice your manager has two young kids and he puts in more time in the office than you.
Step 5; Conciously decide you don't want to be that guy.
Step 6; Quit and enjoy life.

I'm glad I got all that out of my system before 30! :D

The Exception said...

Just Run - Yes, recognizing those reminders is key - and incorporating them into your life.

MC - That would be an eye opening experience - family is truly key..

Wombat - It is unfortunate that something often has to happen for us to realize how we are using out time.

Scotty - You will be a great dad!

Teri - Nice to see you again! Yes, life is long so we do need to enjoy what we are doing - or life is too short to spend so much of it doing things we strongly dislike!

Laughing Boy - We do what we have to do to provide for our families and ourselves - but there is a point where we need to consider the quality of the life we are living. In my immediate area, people strive for big houses, expensive cars, hoity toity lifestyles... and work 60 hours a week easily; often spending more time at work and less time enjoying what they have. There are those that struggle to make ends meet or work several jobs to pay the bills. I would hope that each has time to appreciate the little things that bring happiness to their lives - even if it is simply time to listen to a bird sing.

Ryan - Ah, the idea of living within the moment... challenging and yet something that is very worthwhile.

M@ - And here I thought you were quite the party animal!!! You need to start celebrating!

Aaron - You are ahead of the game! Enjoy your life. The friend I mentioned with ALS is an economist. He sat down and ran the numbers - realizing that he made more money working his 40 and staying put rather than jumping to another situation and working 60 to 80 hour weeks.

Maybe they should teach such logic in college.