“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” – Mark Twain
What is a year? Broken down it is 31,536,000 seconds, 525,600 minutes, 8,760 hours, 365 days. Tomorrow I will have been alive 1,767,312,000 seconds, 29,455,200 minutes, 490,920 hours and 20,455 days. With every birthday, with every year that passes I have a couple of persistent question I ask myself. How many of those 1,767,312,000 seconds have I wasted? How many more will I waste. And last but not least, how many more do I have left?
All of the Zig Ziglar’s, Napoleon Hill’s, and Dale Carnegie’s of the world talk about time. They will tell you, no implore you, to make the most of each second in your life. They will tell you that your success is directly correlated to how well you use your time. That your life’s goals can only be accomplished by using your time wisely and productively. But that begs the question, what is the true measure of success?
I have owned a successful business. I have been the president of civic organizations and have the plaques to prove it. I own a nice house, cars and more stuff than I can use. But does any of that define my success? Do any of these trinkets and accolades warrant or justify any percentage of my 1,767,312,000 seconds of living? I suppose you could say my business allowed me to feed and shelter my family, pay for dance lessons and college. My civic roles allowed me to do some positive things for the community but did any of this really make a difference or were my 1,767,312,000 seconds just taking up space amongst all the other spent seconds out there?
Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama these are people, in my mind, that have made their seconds count. But these are and were uncommon people, pressed onto the world stage for causes or concerns as leaders, saints and martyrs.
I realize that I don’t have another 1,767,312,000 seconds left. I understand that I am going waste more than a few watching football games on television or some sad movie I have seen a hundred times before. But I will also spend a few riding my bicycle with my wife, or maybe helping my daughter and son-in-law work on their new house, or watching my other daughter graduate with her Ph.D., and walking her down the aisle one day, or maybe I will spend a few of my seconds holding a future grandchild tight in my arms.
No, I am not going to find a cure for cancer or solve world hunger. I have probably wasted more than half of the 1,767,312,000 seconds I have been blessed with, but those seconds are gone, behind me and I can’t get them back, nor do I want them back. I do greedily want a few more to spend though, maybe to even waste on the sofa, then again who is counting.
“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.” – Earl Nightingale