“It is a mistake to think time is going. Time is not going. Time is here until the world ends. It is you that is going. You don’t waste time. Time is infinite. You waste yourself. You are finite. It is you that grows old and die. Time doesn’t. So, make better use of it.
Focus on the gifts and talents God gave you and don’t be envious of the blessings He gave others.……”- Anonymous
The title is partially borrowed from Todd Henry’s excellent book titled ‘Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every day’. He argues that we should have a long – term vision for our life, but we should work towards that vision every day. How? By taking steps daily to create a body of work that we can be proud of at the end of our life. This book resonated deeply with me when I first read it and I recommend it highly.
There are some facts that we all naturally like to shy away from, or dismiss from our consciousness. First, none of us is getting out of this life alive. Each and every one of us that is alive today will not live forever. We all have a manufacturing date (our date of birth) as well as an expiry date (our date of death). While we all know and frequently have to write our date of birth severally on various \forms, we are blissfully unaware of our terminal dates until it is upon us. So, at no point in time can we say for sure that we have xyz number of days, weeks or years left.
Second, and deriving from the above is to have a vision of what we want our life to be all about. If we knew someone was going to record in minute detail, and publish for the whole world to see, how we spent the next 24 hours as a representative reflection of our life; we will pay attention to ensure we showcase a ‘perfect’ 24 hours. Thus, Todd Henry encourages us to try and unleash our best potential every single day.
Third, each and everyone of us is unique and different. No two human beings ever in history, or in the future, will have the same fingerprints. Not even identical twins. So, if we are all uniquely different, it implies that we all have something special to contribute to humanity, for as long as we are alive.
The big challenge for us all, is to do some personal reflection and answer the questions: So, what is special about me? What am I gifted at? What are my strengths and my weaknesses? What are those things that comes naturally to me and makes me happy?
It is crucial that we understand ourselves and achieve inner peace with who we are. Knowing yourself is the starting point towards personal growth and development. Perform a SWOT analysis that is honest and factual. If you have objective friends, a spouse or close siblings, they may also help you review and critique it.
Thereafter, make plans for the direction you would like your life to go, in the short to medium and ultimately long term. The big picture is to ensure that we die empty. Empty of all the goodness, creativity and potentials that we have been blessed with. And ultimately to leave the world a better place than we met it.
Conclusion: The traditions of ushering in a new year should necessarily involve retrospective review and gratitude for all that went well in the outgoing year – not least of which is the fact that we are alive. And then a hopeful and optimistic outlook for the coming year that is grounded in pragmatic understanding of our strengths and limitations. Every single day that we wake up and draw breath, we need to truly be ALIVE. Enjoy spending quality time with family, friends, and colleagues. Show them love. The ability to enjoy a good meal, to sleep and wake up, to move our limbs, to exercise our brain and retrieve memories, to smile and to laugh. These are all to be treasured. We only live once. Let’s embrace life and the opportunities it affords us, to do all the good we can, while we still can. Starting from today, let’s do something every day, that we can reflect back in future, and be proud of. Be nice to someone, cause another human being to smile today because of something you did. Grab the wheels of your life, be proactive and start LIVING. Time is infinite. You are not.Happy new year, and may 2022 be kind to us all.
Tribune Article for the column “Your Mental Health & You”
Thursday, 30th December 2021