Your Life, Short Or Long?

In the title of this article, I am talking about the FEELING of shortness or length when one thinks about his or her life. Between birth and death there is a span of life and it rushes by swiftly. Life is short, is the retort.

But, did you ever think why it feels so short? Maybe, it’s because we WASTE so much of it. You can make your life feel longer if you spend your time achieving constructive goals instead of frittering it away in hedonistic activities.

If we waste life, then the constraint of death makes us wonder where life has gone. Many people pursue no fixed goals, they are tossed about on a stormy sea and then death takes them when they least expect it.

So, most people live only a SMALL part of their life and all the rest is merely passing time. Sad, isn’t it?

So the feeling of a long life is all in how you USE it, life, that is.

Many live life as if they are going to live forever. Their mortality never occurs to them. They squander life as if they had a never ending supply.

Some people are weary of the present and troubled by a longing for the future. Before they know what has happened, their hair is white and wrinkles appear. They have NOT lived long, they have just existed for a long time.

People are always expecting something or waiting for something. This life of expectancy denies them TODAY by promising TOMORROW!

The present is extremely valuable and short, most people are unaware of this.

The present is always moving, flowing on in a rush.

So, if you are preoccupied with frivolous distractions, you will fail to grasp the present. But if you use it in productive endeavors, it will seem longer. So don’t neglect the present or fear the future.

How can we come to grips with using our life in an authentic manner? A manner in which you are free and responsible for making your own choices.

Yesterday is a memory and tomorrow never comes. TODAY is what we have to deal with. So, how is that done?

Sartre, my favorite philosopher, said: “Existence precedes essence”, which means that each person exists first, without meaning or purpose, but then strives, for the rest of their life, to give themselves meaning and purpose. You are continually inventing yourself, making choices and living authentically, hopefully.

Here’s a conflicting thought: For life to feel longer, you must fact up to your inevitable death. Because when you face up to the inescapable truths of the human condition, you make sure you live fully in your present, while you can.

And when you live fully in your TODAY, your life feels like it is long.

Abe Lincoln once said: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the LIFE in your years.”

As you now have probably figured out, I am an EXISTENTIALIST. I try to seize the day. CARPE DIEM.

I try to be true to myself and compassionate to others. I have my opinions but the OTHER, an existential term for “person”, they look at me and see me and they have opinions about me, which could or could not stroke my ego. I respect that.

I will end with: Life is like a bank. You can’t take OUT what you haven’t put IN!

Also published on Medium.

5 thoughts on “Your Life, Short Or Long?

  1. First, I have to say I do not pay much attention to time. I have plans and goals, but as you said, it’s what you do in the now that matters. Of course, I have things I have to do at specific times, but again, I do not actually live them until they come. I also try to prepare in the present, and worry about what it is that I have prepared for when the time actually arrives – I call it procrastinating my worries.

    I will say that a lot of people just do not have the luxury or the awareness to live fully in the present, if at all. Abraham Maslow created his self-actualization pyramid, where he thought it necessary to take care of the basics of life first, such as food and shelter. Then comes other things that need to be accomplished, until the top is where a person engages in self-actualizing behavior. While I do not think his pyramid to be set in stone, most people who do not have the basics cannot easily make or take care of higher goals. I do think that one can do things that are self-actualizing without having taking care of the lower levels. Two examples are the homeless musician playing on the street corner or a kid getting straight A’s while living in a shelter.

    Dave, I like your bank simile. One of the metaphors that I think about in my life is: life is financial. This is the umbrella metaphor. One that falls under it is – I invest in people, activities, and things. Another is I open a new branch for taking on something new.

  2. Very insightful, Dave. Gives one pause to think, doesn’t it?

    One thing I have noticed is that looking back, the early school years seemed to pass slowly, and recent years fly by. I’m not certain if this is simply that time seems to pass more quickly as one ages (as studies have shown). Or if a year seems to take much longer when you have had fewer of them and it’s a larger percentage of the time you’ve been alive. Or if having something to mark the time, such as the passing of a school year and arrival of a new one, sets milestones by which one can more easily look back at specific events, and that these milestones one sets through the passage of time make it feel longer and more significant.

    What you said about waiting for something to happen…how many of us are doing that? Waiting for kids to finish school, graduate from college, move out of the house? Looking forward to retirement? Waiting for our next vacation? A better job? Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

    Set a milestone. Savour today.

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