A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I were chatting…in person. Face to face. Yes. It still happens. Somewhere in the course of the evening’s conversation I made the statement, “Hey…I got about twenty-nine years left on this planet. I can’t waste time.” While there was a brief debate over life expectancy, the long and short of it was how I wanted to spend my limited time left in this shell of a body. Not to worry…the heaviness of the conversation was softened with a few cocktails.
Just yesterday, scrolling through my news feed on facebook, I came across an article, Letter From My Husband: We Have 15 Years to Live, on elephantjournal.com. The essence of it is that there was a disagreement about a trivial matter between a husband and wife. The article is the husband’s self examination of the life he is living. No small task for any of us. He looked at how he spends his time on inconsequential things and touched on where he actually finds happiness and joy. The bulk of the article focuses on social media and the internet as primary distractions for him and how those distractions keep him from deep interpersonal relationships. But there are so many ways we distract ourselves from our life. Distract ourselves from joy. From happiness.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who are alive.” ~Howard Thurman
Toward the end of his letter he mathematically breaks down how long he has to live. Quite the challenge to stare at your mortality in that way. Quickly, based on his mathematics, I figure I’ve got about twelve years of waking/non-working time to do things that genuinely bring me joy …that bring me happiness. That’s 105,190 hours. While I do have a luxury of doing work that brings me joy and happiness, twelve years isn’t very much time for wasting time on trivial matters. Tick-tock!
The husband says in his letter, “I don’t have fond memories of spending hours on social media day after day. I do have fond memories of all the road trips and vacations we’ve taken.” As Manorama recently wrote…You have a choice where to put your energy. Put it where you feel joy and where it lights you up.
While the husband’s approach was eliminating his distractions of social media and internet, for me, the approach needs to be less about elimination and more about intentional addition. As a yoga teacher, my evening hours are limited for socializing and getting together with people. I often don’t get to see a wide swath of people in my life. But that “story” becomes tiresome for me and my community. So, after recently enjoying an evening with a friend I don’t get to see often, I took the time to schedule “dates” with a her over the next months. Where my attention goes is where my energy goes. While some may think this scheduling is somewhat prescribed…I think of it as purposeful. Living on purpose. And that’s where I find the joy. That’s where I want to be.
Do the math. How do you want to spend your limited time?