Where You Don't Want to Be: Lost in Waiting

Don't be fooled by the calendar.  There are only as many days…as you make use of. -Charles Richards 

By Henry Adeleye on December 4, 2015


So, it's another week and another mass attack.  From Paris, to Chicago, to San Bernardino.  When we look at things like this, it's always so hard to find something you can take from it.  Is there some kind of sign?  Is there anything you can learn?  In an interesting book I stumbled across, The Power of Starting Something Stupid, the author speaks about the loss of his young son.  After the burial, one of his good friends asked him, "So what have you learned?"  He was taken aback by the question, initially.  But after dwelling on it a bit, he realized he learned that life is too short to get caught up in the busy-ness of it, to be lost in waiting.  I think a similar lesson can be applied here. 


For most of us, our work fills our lives.  You work and work and work, and pay bills, then the next thing you know, you're gone.  For another great number of us, we live on the deferred life plan, where we work and work and work, and pay bills, and save for retirement, pushing what we really want to do to old age.  The deferred life plan stems from many of the early company and government pension plans.  They pretty much say, just work for me now and I'll reward you later by letting you relax in about 45 years.  Put off what you want to do in exchange for what you have to do.      


We fall for it every time. 


Don't wait.  Start stuff.  It's tempting to tell yourself that when you're 65 you will finally be able to relax, donate to charity, start a charity, spend more time with family, travel, and give your time to the causes you really care about; that you'll finally be able to live the dreams you've worked for your whole life when the kids move out (they won't), or when you finally qualify for Social Security (it probably won't exist by the time we get there).  By the time you do reach that age, your kids may not recognize you, and you may be in such bad health that you can't even enjoy your free time.  That's not to say that saving for retirement is a bad thing, because that's so far from the truth.  It's to say that you shouldn't wait forever to do the things you've been wanting to do. 


In a popular Stanford commencement speech by Steve Jobs, he posed a question he asked himself every day after he started his battle with cancer:  "If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I'm about to do today?  And whenever the answer has been, 'no' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."  Don't let your desires pass by while you wait for that fictional age in the future when you'll finally have the time to do them.  Refuse to achieve success at the expense of life.  As these past few weeks have shown us all, if you don't live life now, you may never get the chance to live it.