It’s really, really important that you spend your time doing things that you enjoy and that have meaning. Remember back when you were young?
Picture it: your mother in the kitchen cooking supper. Your dad in the lounge rifling through papers in his briefcase. Your siblings fighting with each other. You, sitting on your haunches, playing with Lego blocks. You were probably 7 or 8 years old. No worries other than what you were getting for Christmas this year.
Your mother calls for supper. You get up from the parquet floor and run into the kitchen, nostrils flaring in anticipation. Spaghetti bolognaise – your favourite! It’s 1984 and one day you’re going to be a fireman or a train conductor.
Your parents are having a conversion with each other and not glued to their cellphones – these haven’t even been invented yet. You get to watch one TV show and then it’s bed time. Sweet dreams, kisses, hugs – and then you drift off into sleep, your head full of dreams about the future and how exciting it all is and how you can’t wait to grow up and be a big person and drive a car and travel everywhere and have crazy, wild adventures like the Hardy Boys.
Then the world got busy.
It invented technology to make us more productive. More social. More effective. Healthier. Fitter. More beautiful. Internet famous.
It didn’t happen all at once, but slowly. You stayed in the pot like the frog, relaxing as the water slowly warmed to boiling.
You went to school. You were taught to think like everyone else. You were given a very narrow future – accountant, lawyer, engineer, doctor. You didn’t learn how to be good with money, or do taxes, or negotiate with the bank or grow your own food. Instead, you learned how to work for someone else and make someone else rich.
Nobody told you that you should start your own business and help the world become a better place. You went to university. It cost a ton of money that your parents sacrificed everything for. You completed a degree and entered the work force.
Is this it, you wondered? This is nothing like the textbooks. All the business theory in the world couldn’t prepare you for the realities of work politics, bad decision making, incomprehensible stupidity and all the other daily annoyances you get in an open plan office.
You decide to throw everything you have into your career. You work like crazy, 6am to 11pm. You somehow get married. You have kids. You get bonuses and sometimes not, take short holidays at the seaside and sometimes not.
Time marches on.
You get promoted. You continue working like crazy. Pay taxes. Get life insurance. Medical aid. Proper adulting.
You hold your breathe for a decade, maybe fifteen years, putting your own dreams aside and bearing down on the realities of car payments, house payments, nappies and burst geysers.
You come home to a spouse who is leaving you for someone else and your life is karate chopped in the solar plexus. You are left reeling for a while, stagger back into the fray and meet someone new.
Time marches on.
You turn thirty five, and then moments later, forty. Your house is nicer. Your car is paid off and your kids are happy. Your partner is happy. Even your ex is happy. You run and eat healthy food whenever you can and yet…
You take a long, long look back to 1984. Your dreams make their way back to your conscious mind. You scan through the years behind you and the years in front of you and you finally, finally decide that your time is the most precious thing you have. You thought it was Legos but really you didn’t have a clue about what really matters.
Honestly, if you think about how short your life is and you start to realise that there is so much more than Instagram and hashtags and money and stupid stuff that you think you own but really own you – only then will you really start to live your life.
You may come to this realisation while the winds are howling past the airplane window, lightning and thunder and wild rain throwing the small plane you are trapped in around like a rag doll. You may breathe a sigh of relief as you find yourself back on solid ground and embrace the fact that you have a second chance and that you still need to bungee jump or start a business or take guitar lessons or travel to Cambodia.
Time is the one thing you cannot grab hold of, so make damn sure that you respect it. Don’t waste your time or let other people waste it for you.
Please. Please. Live before you die.