Time is not what it used to be.

February 17, 2011

It’s 4am.
I’ve developed this strange habit of waking up naturally between 2am and 5am… and I love it.  It’s like I’m able to freeze time. No one is emailing or calling. I don’t have to be anywhere.  The world is asleep, and I’m alive. It almost feels like cheating death, it feels that good.


I think a lot about time. It’s the one quantifiable currency we all share. Rich or poor, no one has more than 24 hours in a day… or do they?  Let me tell you – they do.  Time is hardly a constant.  How many times have you felt like a great day passed by in hours, or the opposite: waiting in a boring line that seems to take forever? Time is malleable. In fact, it’s constantly speeding up…


I sat with my grandfather, 88 years old and I asked him about his life. He said it’s all gone by so quickly. The man has seen two world wars, and went from a poor farm in Hungary, to living the good life in West Los Angeles, and all he can think about is how fast it all went by.  I asked my Dad, “Do you feel like time is moving faster?”  “Every year, he said. “Every year it gets faster and faster.”   My friend Craig said, “Everything between graduating college and turning 40 feels like a blur. It all happened so fast.”


It’s tempting to take a “Seize the Day” attitude when faced with the accelerating pace of time. We think about all the trips we’d like to take, and all the things we’d like to do. But death bed realizations are not filled with stories of people who never got to take jungle expeditions to Madagascar.  No, they’re filled with much deeper regrets  – loved ones we never got to know, feelings we never expressed, jobs we stayed in too long. At an even deeper level, we realize that all the feelings of self-hatred, guilt, and judging others was completely in our minds and that every problem problem we believed we had was completely unimportant.


…these are the thoughts we’re faced with when staring into the void of our own demise.


But that’s not where I spend my time.  In my next post I’ll give three distinctions I use to enjoy life, learn in real-time, and cheat death.