Well, if you were to believe the Roman philosopher Seneca, life is not short but long if we know how to use it –
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.
But since we often fail to use our limited time on this planet well, life indeed turns out to be short, or so it seems.
I was reminded of this stark reality yesterday when I read this tweet –
A friend said something crazy to me the other day:
"You have 18 summers to enjoy with your kids. That's it."
By the time your kids turn 18, you have spent 70%+ of the total time you will spend with them. After that, it's a wild card (they are busy, you are old).
— Andrew Wilkinson (@awilkinson) January 21, 2020
The next thing I did was to hold the hands of my 15-year old daughter and 8-year old son, look into their eyes, and tell them I love them a lot. And when I read this tweet to my daughter, she reminded me she is already 15, and that if I really believe in this tweet and really love her, I must take her on a trip to Disneyland (kids!).
Anyways, the idea of life being short did not leave my mind (it never does!) and I decided to illustrate it to include almost all my thoughts on what we could do to use life well so that, as Seneca suggests, we don’t waste our precious time chasing stuff that really makes it feel short.
Here is that illustration, and I have spent quite some time from my short life to create it. Just zoom in to read my ideas on how we can use our life better, to do things and make experiences that really matter.
Most of what happens to us in life is anyways beyond our control, and we must learn to let it go.
But I firmly believe in what Mark Twain said –
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Now is the time, my dear friend, to explore, dream, discover. Because life, as we may live it, is really short.