I love the riddle section of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. (Affiliate link.)
During the epic battle of wits, Gollum offers this riddle for Bilbo’s consideration.
This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountains down.
The answer, of course, is time.
The Regrets of the Dying
I was listening to a series by Andy Stanley recently about creating breathing room in our lives. The specific areas he addresses include relationships, money, and time.
He quoted a book by Bronnie Ware titled, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. (Affiliate link.) Ware worked in hospice and her job was to visit and help provide the needs for those who were terminally ill.
Her job was to help people die.
An important part of her job was listening. And when we are dying, we talk about our regrets. Everyone does it. Everyone will. I remember my father doing it.
Catching a glimpse into the lives of so many, Ware noticed a pattern, and made a list of the top 5 regrets to help us avoid them.
Number 2 on her list was, “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
She explains that most wished they had used their time differently. Instead of merely existing in the “treadmill of their job,” they wished they had taken time to enjoy better, more important things. Family. Spouses. Hobbies. Life itself.
They wished they had used their time differently.
You are Running Out of Time
My goal isn’t to scare you. I only want to remind you of something we all forget. A truth we avoid. But when remembered, it becomes a powerful motivation to change how we live our stories.
No matter what we do, no matter the advances in science regarding aging, no matter how many vitamins we take, no matter how much we exercise, no matter how many vegetables we eat, everyone of us will die.
Stanley’s point isn’t to create dread, but to help us all to value and make good use of this limited resource.
Even the tallest mountains or the hardest metals or the mightiest kings are unable to defeat time. (Tweet that.)
Numbering Your Days
Our lives are like an egg timer. The sand is always falling, filling the bottom and emptying the top. When each grain makes this journey, it cannot be replaced. And one day the sand will stop. The grains will run out. Our time will end.
But the point is that it hasn’t yet. There is still sand in the top. There is still time. We do have today.
To make the most of our remaining time we have to ask ourselves hard questions. And we have to be honest with our answers.
- When time runs out, what will you wish you had done?
- Who will you wish you had spent more time with?
- What do you truly want to accomplish with your life?
- What will stop mattering the moment we breath our last?
- What in our lives, will matter forever?
Your answers will tell you what is important in life. They will give you a vision for what you need to be doing.
Then we can begin managing our time to take steps towards our vision. Maybe the first steps are small. Maybe the changes don’t look like much today.
But with time, they can add up to something more.
What helps you to remember what matters most in life?
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