When “Your Time is Almost Up”

April 15, 2016 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

“Okay, your time is up.” We expect these words at the completion of a paint-ball game or massage or training session. But what about when God or the Voice of the Universe whispers these same words as a reminder that your time here on earth is “almost up?” Hmmm?

No, I’m not on my deathbed, nor am I even in the room that bed sits, but I do reside in the same house. Every decade or so I find the time has come for me to reevaluate what I want to do and be in the next decade. That time is upon me now. I think that because of my age this may be one of my most important life-assessment adventures.

So, I plan to take a 4-8 week hiatus from writing the blog as I ponder life, the universe and everything in order to apply my creative energies to living a great life in “old age.” I know many of you don’t like that term. I am actually quite fond of it. It is a most gratifying feeling to accept the reality that every day really counts.

For instance, I just read that when you graduate high school you will have used up 90% of the entire time you will see your parents. Sort of “ups the ante” on the time we devote to our most important relationships.

For the final blog before my hiatus, I’ve decided to publish a personal journal entry from a couple of days ago.

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Well, here I sit in the Starbucks by my house on 3/9/16 pondering my new life in old age. I got the idea of “old age” from Daniel Klein’s Travels with Epicurus who, at 72, isolated himself on a small island off Greece (Hydra) to consider how best to live old age before he reached what he calls “old, old age” (defined by “senility and extreme infirmity”).

Mired in the American culture of capitalism and productivity, I’ve found it difficult to simply live in some manner I would consider meaningful. Without a career or business engagement I awake almost daily feeling bored before I even begin the day. I found it most interesting that Daniel Klein claims the three greatest fears of old age, in order, are: (1) the fear of severe illness, (2) the fear of death, AND… (3) the fear of boredom.

Wow! I guess I’m right where I’m supposed to be. Now the question is what to do about it.

My problem is that, in the recent past, I became accustomed to deep involvement in the kinds of activities that would be considered useful and productive. But now I am haunted by a need to reevaluate how I use my time, for in no other readings of philosophy or religion do I find this American ideal of productivity and usefulness as the primary purpose in life.

Instead I read of things like appreciation, gratitude, kindness, helpfulness, piety, virtue, and, of course, love. Not so representative of “the American Way.” But it IS the way of the wisdom of philosophers and prophets.

In addition I am considering the views of Epicurus who maintains the purpose of life is pleasure and the avoidance of pain. (NOTE: Current views of Epicureanism do not represent the thoughts of Epicurus.) He defines pleasure as simply “being undisturbed or having peace of mind, along with the contemplation of worthy thoughts.” For me, I would add absorbing the wonder of the world.

Beating the productive/useful frame of mind will not be easy considering I have focused so much of my energies in the past on these values. I mean, what good is a man if he is not useful or contributing to the value of society? That’s the tension of productivity vs. “being.” I am entering a new season of life when what is most reasonable is to both absorb and enjoy the day as I continue to mindfully contribute to the development of the lives of others. In addition, creativity is a significant driver in my personal future.

So, let’s see if a list helps:

  1. Things to Absorb and Enjoy
    1. Cultural travel
    2. Contemplative Travel
    3. Contributing Travel
    4. Museums
    5. Books
    6. Movies
    7. Discussions
    8. Replenishing Friendships
  1. Things for Personal Development or Enlightenment
    1. Books
    2. Webinars/Seminars
    3. Travel
    4. Classes for Fun (like a class in Acting or Art History)
  1. Things for the Good of Others
    1. Blog and Podcast
    2. Advisor
    3. Friend
  1. Things for Creativity
    1. Idea Generation
    2. Writing
    3. Drawing
    4. Painting

I will treasure this time off. I have a stack of books and a few days of (mostly) isolated retreat already planned.

See You Soon

Photo courtesy of choness at istockphoto

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