“Life… is a long time. But it goes by fast.” – Joshua Rosenthal, Founder, Institute for Integrative Nutrition
A dear young friend is facing a life decision that could be devastating to herself and others. The possibilities are crucial, disruptive. The pressures the young face to try to craft a meaningful life from so many options are enormous. And I believe the perspectives we have are often both too short-sighted and overly far-reaching.
“But this feels right, right now…” I know, dear heart. I understand. I know.
“If it is going to hurt like this forever, I can’t bear it…” I know. It can feel like that.
If I could say one thing – just one thing – it would be this; “Don’t trade in a lifetime of happiness for momentary relief. Don’t mistake the temporary pain of growing deep in the important things for a life sentence of middling misery.”
But, the voices of our society would drown me out on that, would’t they? “If it feels good, do it!” “This is just the way I am.” And the one I hate most, “I had no choice!”
How do we tell the difference between the things that make the “long time” of our lives worthy of this one and only life we have, yet be mindful of the urgency of taking the moment captive?
“Life is a long time” means, “We have the time we need to do the most important things.” Does what I am doing today, right this minute, align with my true priorities? Am I building toward a life well-lived?
Let’s look at some examples, from my own life.
Regrets I have; too much time given to so-called friends, robbed from my children, my husband, from building true community. Did I really not notice my son was having an asthma attack while I chatted on the phone? Say it ain’t so!
Not enough thought given to treasuring my gifts. Did I really abuse my voice, so that singing – my one true love – is now impossible? Did I really screech and scream in large, meaningless crowds to get the attention of kids-or adults- who didn’t care, only to be unable to perform the music I love for the rest of my life?
Gratitude I have: Dropping everything to be with a friend suffering horrific grief. Opening our home to people in need. Being faithful and committed to my husband and children for a lifetime, even when I felt miserable, tired and sick of the daily grind.
“It goes by fast!” means, “Celebrate now. Do what is meaningful now.” Don’t let the stresses and pressures of urgent-but-unimportant tasks crowd out the joys of being together, seeing the world, crafting a life worth living. Music, meaningful work and lifetime relationships vs. silly videos, inspirational memes, and quick thrills.
This is the only life I get, yet I am part of the march of history. The days fly by, yet I am creating the world of future generations with every decision, both small and great.
Little one, little one! Try to see the picture a year from now… 50 years from now.
Life is a long time. But it goes by fast.