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The Delusion of Time

I am embarrassed to admit that I’ve already broken my New Year’s resolution to get fit in order to feel better. I physically slogged through the pandemic, and in these four years, made many promises that I’d get my health act together.

January 1, 2024, was the date I started an exercise program. Wall Pilates sounded like a good way to move my sore/stiff/flabby body.

After the first workout, I took a rest day, and that has stretched into several days of physical inactivity. Yep. I have had a resolution relapse. There are times when I can put the “pro” in procrastination and that’s what I’ve done. Of course, this is what we humans have been doing for thousands of years. The ancient Roman philosopher Seneca said that it is the one thing all fools have in common: They are always getting ready to start. A brutal, but accurate assessment.

Another failed attempt at physical fitness in my advancing age would have gotten a shrug from me, until I listened to a story that NPR reporter Allison Aubrey did on my January 8 morning radio show. Here’s the conclusion: We don’t follow through on resolutions to improve whatever area of life needs it, because we don’t find the time to do it. We’re just too busy. We have sooooo much to do. The hard truth is humans have a delusional relationship with time. We think we have much more of it than we actually do.

Here’s what got my attention. If the average lifespan of an American is 76 years, that’s four thousand WEEKS of living, and we all know how fast a week can go by. I heard this little factoid, did some quick math, and was shocked to learn that at my age, I have about 782 weeks left if I live to 76!

Truly, I felt as though I couldn’t breathe for a few seconds after letting it sink in that I have wasted a LOT of time and I really do NOT have a lot left. (Don’t be smug if you are 40. You’re not sitting on a ton of time either. You have about two thousand weeks left.)

Incredibly, even yours truly, the founder of the End in Mind Project, buys into the “Someday…One day” illusion. Allison Aubrey’s story brought a whole lot of things into sharp focus. Very. Quickly. The same can be said of a terminal diagnosis.

So, I propose a resolution; let’s not backslide on it either. Let’s find the time to make each of the 52 weeks of 2024 the most interesting, impactful, meaningful, purposeful, beautiful or memorable that we can. If a week’s too much to wrap your head around, let’s take it day by day. But here’s the admonition: Quit wasting time because sooner than you think, you will run out of it.



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