Art of the Smart

The Cliff of Lifetime Experiences

Categories: [general], [philosophy]
Tags: [self-improvement], [story-time]

TL, DR: Seize the day, don't live a life deferred.

Sometimes it's easy to fall into the trap of waiting for important things to happen in your life. There's always tomorrow, right? I've certainly found myself getting stuck in that mindset, but I had a conversation with my friend Scott that I wanted to share with you.

Scott is a bit older than me, but he has a deep and different wisdom from mine. We were talking about our significant others while I drove us to the city. I'd asked if he was thinking of having kids, and Scott expressed an interest in starting a family- preferably soon. Off-handedly I mentioned that he had plenty of time. What's the hurry? He corrected me in a way that really gave me pause.

"That's definitely not the case!" he said. "I'm a smoker well into his 30s; how much time do I really think I'll be around? 65 maybe? If we decided to start a family- today- I would be retired by the time my kid was graduating high school. If my kid decided to start a family as late as I did, I'll probably never see their wedding. I'll never see my grandkids. I've already accepted that (I wouldn't have grandkids), so I better get started if I don't want to miss anything else!"

The cliff of experiences may preclude the "end game" for some things

And he was right. There's this cliff of lifetime experiences that lies ahead of us. Everything we want to do like go to college, get a great job, meet someone special, get married, have kids, build a career, retire, play golf for 12 hours in a stretch because I can- all that stuff is in the future. And many of those wants are organized in a linear fashion and have to be done in sequence. If we don't start that chain of events promptly, vigorously, we risk losing the "finale" of that experience because it fell off the cliff of our lifetime as our inevitable death edged closer.

Now of course you can extend that cliff by eating right, exercising, adopting a pet, and more. But it's still there and still getting closer, and over the cliff is where regrets live. All the things you wanted to do if only you'd started sooner or gone faster. If you know you want something in your life "at some point" make sure you have an idea of how to get there because you might need to start today if you want to get there.