I have to constantly remind myself that my time on the third rock from the sun is limited. Time is truly the most precious resource in my life. This year I made the decision that I will focus on making the most of my life with every decision that I make daily.
I heard someone once say show me your calendar and your bank account and I will tell you what you value. Wow, that makes it incredibly simple. Increasingly, I watch how people act. Actions are the children of our beliefs and thoughts. Actions are the true voice of our values.
The great equalizer in life is time. Everyone has twenty-four hours each day. True, some people get more days in their lives than others. Some don’t even get one day. They get hours, minutes, or seconds. Current estimates are the earth is populated by 7.7 billion humans. I am one of those humans.
I recently attended a small event where people shared their life’s story. The first person shared some intimate details of her life. The person shared a very painful experience. It was part of the journey that person has taken so far. The over-comer’s journey presented by this person inspired me. We continued around the room, and then I shared my story. We all shed tears as we felt the pain and shame that each of us had as we trod down this thing we call life. I was amazed at how messy life can be.
What inspired me more was to hear how these traumas had shaped each of our lives. In the past, I have had tendencies to center my focus on myself. Oh, my traumas are the greatest. Nobody has had it as bad as I have. When I take the time to hear the woes of another, I’m thankful that I did not have to carry their burden.
Later that day I was listening to someone else, and he referenced the traumas that each of us have in our lives. Some people have traumas with a lower-case t, and some people have traumas with a Capital T. We all have traumas.
I don’t wish anyone a traumatic event. However, since we all journey through this thing we call life, we all experience trauma. One cannot go through life unscathed. The only way to not experience trauma is not to live. I’m not a believer that everything happens for a reason. That just doesn’t compute with my worldview.
Traumas are painful, and they can perpetuate further traumas. Think for example of the couple that loses a child at an early age. Many times that marriage fails to exist because the trauma of the child’s death devastates both parents to the point that the couple can no longer connect. Another trauma.
Which brings me to how we choose to react. Given that life can be messy, and consequently, we experience traumatic events that we have no control of, we have to choose how we are going to react to those life events.
For me, those choices to react start with small, seemingly unimportant choices. A few years ago, a friend told me that she was going to make a New Year’s Resolution. Every time she took her dog out to walk, she would pick up a piece of garbage. This practice was her way of making the world a better place.
I thought about those words further and came up with my own practice to improve my world. In the past, I have what I call a resting jerk face. Now every time I enter a store or public place I turn my attention away from myself. I put a smile on my face and look people in the eye as I pass them and greet that person with a hello.
When I purchase something at the store, I like to ask the person for their name and then thank them by name once they have finished helping me. Both of these practices seem like small gestures. They are small gestures. However, they instantly change the way I interact with people and the world. I move my focus from myself toward other people. I do something small to brighten that person’s day. I probably am the only person that cared enough to use that person’s name. A person’s name is the most beautiful words most people hear.
I’ve been using these two practices as a way to throw a small pebble in the pond to produce a ripple effect on humanity. What I didn’t realize at the time I started these practices was the effect these practices would have on me. I’m happier because of these practices because I get to see a smile and I get to connect with another person.
This leads me to think further about how I want to live the rest of my life.
The average male in America life expectancy of a male in the United States is 78.7 years. Each year there are 52 weeks in the year. That means the average male will have 4,092 weeks in their lifetime.
I wanted to create a visual way to represent the life I have remaining. Time is an intangible resource that is so easy to use up and not recognize how much time I have left.
I recently bought two plastic containers. I then bought 1,800 marbles. Each marble represents a week of life that I have left.
Last Sunday, I threw one of those marbles left. Now I have 1,799 weeks left in my life. I choose to make each of those remaining weeks matter.