“Since it is possible that you might depart from life this very moment, regulate every act and thought accordingly.”
The world that we know is a very interesting one. We, as humans, have so many incredible expectations that wouldn’t have been fathomed 20 years ago, 50 years ago, and most definitely not thousands of years ago. Every once in a while I sit back and think about some of those expectations and how frustrated we get when they aren’t met.
Have you ever felt yourself overheat with rage when the WiFi makes your Netflix show lag? This magical wireless technology that didn’t exist in the beginning of our lifetimes is now expected to work 100% of the time.
How about when your car breaks down on you? We all expect it to just labor on for us as we drive it back and forth to work day after day after day.
Or how dare a website be down or unresponsive. A website. On the internet. This infinite place of things and information that was inconceivable as a unicorn not long ago.
We walk through life with so many expectations and assumptions of things we perceive to be guarantees. Things that were unimaginable a few years ago become common place and we begin to take these things for granted. It’s incredible.
Public enemy #1 in the category of “expectations that aren’t guaranteed” is that our heart will beat, our lungs will breathe, and our bodies will move for one more day. Along with unthinkable advances in technology have come unprecedented advances in medicine. Life expectancy is pushing 80 in the U.S. as of this writing. That’s amazing isn’t it. We call it life expectancy. We expect it to happen that way. No wonder we take most of the years leading up to 80 for granted.
We put things off, we procrastinate, and we wait for tomorrow.
The quote that began this post comes from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. I’ve been reading it as of late. The man had some incredible insights about how to live a life well lived and how to be good to others. The best part? These insights and reflections on life were written from 170-180 A.D. Yes, you read that correctly. The book is about 1,800 years old. Some of the things that he writes about gives some amazing perspective on living life in the present moment and cherishing each day you have. Another quote that drives home this thought is the following:
“As you kiss your son goodnight, whisper to yourself that he may be dead in the morning.”
Morbid? Sure. But, more importantly it’s a reminder of how life was back then and how swiftly it could be taken from you. As he said goodnight to his children, he made sure to embrace that moment because he literally didn’t know if he’d have another night like it. He understood the weight and importance of living each day because he wasn’t promised the next one.
If he or his wife or his son got a cold, they would more than likely die. If we get a cold, we take some NyQuil and sleep soundly.
Without the immediate reminders of how precious life can be, we tend to put off the idea of death. Out of sight out of mind. By doing this, it subconsciously allows us to put things off and procrastinate.
In our minds, we have thousands of days left, so why worry about wasting one or two?
But what if that’s not the case? What if we don’t have thousands of days left? How do we know we’re not wasting time that could be used to build a better life or deepen the most meaningful relationships we have?
Unfortunately, we don’t know. It’s not promised, and we shouldn’t assume otherwise. We should take hold of the time that we are guaranteed, and the only time guaranteed is today. Put your phone down, turn the TV off and enjoy the company of the people around you. Start working on that project or business idea that you have been waiting to act on. Probability says that you have a substantial amount of time left on this earth; technology and medicine have really upped their game. Wouldn’t all of that time be that much better if you spent every minute, hour or day being as present as possible?