Daily Meditation #174–8/15/2022
The days are long but the years are short.
This is one of the most cut-to-the-bone truths of life.
Have you had a moment, yet, in your life where one day you look in the mirror and can’t help realizing…
“My God. I’m 34.” Or 22. Or 57. Or whatever age.
This creeping feeling won’t go away.
Your life isn’t so much one, giant, expansive lifetime as much as it millions of minutes forming hundreds of thousands of hours, then days, weeks and so on.
We look upon a beautiful, smooth, elegant marble statue and are in awe of the accuracy and form as a whole, yet don’t think of the artist having very precisely, very specifically tapped their chisel 100,000 times — over and over and over — until “The angel was set free,” as Michelangelo said.
How often each day do you grab your phone and think “I’ll just check FaceBook real quick — 2 minutes,” and then it becomes 30 (it happens to all of us)?
How about, “I’m just going to have one brownie while they’re still warm and fresh from the oven,” but then realize you’ve eaten half of the pan?
And what about “I’m going to skip working out today,” and it turns into a week?
This is the logical extension of days being long and years short.
We believe, wrongly, that we have plenty of time of our lives left.
That we can easily eat the extra donut this week.
That we can spare the $5 for the coffee, again, today.
That we can blow off our friend.
We need to turn this way of thinking on it’s head.
The grand sum of our life is not simply “just a lifetime,” but the sum of billions of small decisions adding (or subtracting).
While that 5 minutes on your phone in the bathroom, today, is only 5 minutes, over the span of years, how many days could it add up to?
When you’re — surprise! — dying of cancer or have an unexpected accident, would you give back every single one of those moments to have those days back?
To spend with your spouse? Your child?
While, today, that extra donut is 400 calories (which, actually, is a ton), when in 5 years you’ve slowly increased in weight by 25, 30, or 35% and you’re fighting heart disease, how happily would you go back to sacrifice even half of those “bonus” sweets?
I will not argue that, yes, sometimes it is good to “let loose,” and cannot say I am without these flaws, I will say to strive for mindfulness.
It isn’t “just” a year.
It is a year of months.
Months of weeks.
Weeks of days.
Days of minutes…
It isn’t “just” 50 pounds.
It is 50 one pound increments.
Half pound additions each week, spread out.
Half pounds made of a few calories here, a bump of 100 there…
Be mindful of the small decisions, now, as these small seeds strewn carelessly can over the years grow into dense forests you one day may be lost in or need to trim back.
Small failures made one thousand times can be deadly.
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These are distillations from my coming book “YouDaimonia: the Ancient Philosophy of Human Flourishing.”