A Fleeting Thought
Life is fleeting. It’s unrelentingly brief. Every interaction, every conversation, every laugh, and every moment passes much too quickly. And just when we think we have time, when we feel things might be slowing down - everything can change in the blink of an eye, when you least expect it.
I least expected it in high school, when I learned my older brother and idol, who got involved with the wrong crowd, would be locked up for the next 10 years of his life. Very suddenly, he was out of my life, and seeing him face to face meant driving 3 hours to a maximum security prison. Someone I saw every day, someone I learned so much from, and someone who taught me right from wrong, even if he didn’t know it, was locked up - our interactions reduced to mere letters and staged prison photographs. It hurt at the time, but it in a way I didn’t expect, it actually made us closer, and made me appreciate the time I did get to spend with him.
It seems life throws things at us sometimes just to remind us how fleeting it can be. This again occurred more recently in one of the most tragic way possible, when a friend and former colleague, Adam London, passed away at the age of 27. In the days after Adam passed, the major recurring theme I kept hearing was how fleeting life can be. And it really is. Everything great can be taken away literally overnight. It’s not fair, and it doesn’t make sense. My only wish is that I had gotten to know him better, and everyone that knew him certainly wished they had more time to spend with him. But it also made me appreciate the interactions we did have and honor him in ways I would have never done otherwise. I had lunch with him a couple weeks before he passed, when his whole life was still in front of him, and everything seemed right. Then everything changed in the blink of an eye.
You can try to make sense of things, you can try to rationalize and justify why things happen, but in the end, it’s sometimes impossible. All you have are the fleeting moments in front of you. This is why it’s so utterly important to make the most of it. Every interaction, every conversation, every laugh & every moment. You have to enjoy it. You have to embrace it. Even the boring, mundane and frustrating moments, you have to at least try to see the good in it. For you never know when it will pass. As the late David Foster Wallace said - it can be within “your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer hell-type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred; on fire with the same force that lit the stars: compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things.”
These fleeting moments, both good and bad, makes life so genuine. Understanding and realizing the delicate nature of life makes one optimize the time we have on things we enjoy. There are certain moments in life that make it clear that spending time on what matters, matters.
These aren’t universal, and these platitudes are simply my own, but I know there are certain things I can do to optimize the moments I have:
Spend more time with those you care deeply about. Tell your parents you love them. Spend less time complaining and more time enjoying. Say please and thank you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Smile. Don’t take anything for granted. Read something. Play board games. Laugh. Give compliments to people you don’t know. Spend money on the experiences that make you happy. Send flowers. Spend time with your dog(s). Volunteer. Listen to music that makes you happy. Set a morning routine. Learn to play the guitar. Workout. Stay organized and set daily goals. Don’t be late. Keep your phone out of sight at dinner. Go surfing. Spend less time hungover. Laugh at jokes that aren’t funny. Eat food you normally wouldn’t try. Eat every breakfast sandwich you can get your hands on. Stay in touch. Don’t get distracted. Write. Do yoga. Meditate. Spend less time watching shitty TV. Spend more time watching documentaries (and Pixar movies). Unplug. Go on more walks. Take time to do nothing but think. As much as possible, help others. Buy food for the homeless and get to know their name. Integrate a charitable cause, somehow, someway, into your everyday work. Give high-fives. Spend more time face-to-face. Travel. Gain new perspectives. Go vegetarian for a month. Write a blog post because your best friends challenge you to do it.
I certainly have a long way to go to get there, but these fleeting moments are all we have, and what makes life so powerful.