Here today, gone tomorrow. Really, it’s gone instantaneously. What am I talking about? Time. We act like we have forever ahead of us, which isn’t the case. Because we don’t know how much time is left and we don’t treasure it like the precious, non-renewable resource that it is. The older I get, the more that friends are dealing with catastrophic, potentially life-limiting diagnoses. There is nothing like awareness of a real dead-line to focus attention on what matters. One of the collateral problems with illnesses like cancer is that a person who is diagnosed doesn’t know how much good time they’ll have. Illness can drain energy; treatment has a variety of side-effects; and pain distracts. Even when pain is well-managed, the drugs that help control it may result in sleepiness.
You may say, “These are my priorities.” Let your calendar prove it, using backward planning. Pull out whatever you use to keep track of appointments and analyze a “normal” week (no travels, ER visits, or house guests (unless those are usual for you etc.). A week has 168 hours but you may want to evaluate just your work week. How long do you sleep? Subtract your sleep time from 168 to calculate awake, usable time. Do you get a consistent amount each night? Pay attention to your sleep number, especially if you find yourself having a daily slump or you seem to be prone to catching whatever illness is going around. Add up time spent preparing and commuting as well as work itself. Factor in maintenance activities like child care, shopping, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, etc. It may be that your work represents your highest priority, which makes sense if that’s where most of your time is going. Ask a friend to partner and track a week together. Make a date to analyze the results of your time audits. Ask questions like: If health is important to you, how much time do you spend exercising and fixing healthy meals? If writing is your goal, how often do you set prime time aside for your projects?
Don’t wait to start living. Use your next coffee break to think about what’s important instead of checking your phone for messages. Knowing that life may be measured in months or weeks gives a sense of urgency to embrace joy, but no one has guarantees. We don’t know so make moments count by living your dash: the days between birth and death dates. If you haven’t heard of the Dash poem, read it here:
One life, no do-overs.
© Joan S Grey, 23 Sep 2016
IndexCardCure™: living intentionally