If you have never had the chance to see a New Orleans cemetery, you missed something special. They’re not morbid rows of headstones. They’re beautiful cities of stone; the monuments and mausoleums are works of art. Weeping angels, cathedral-like monuments, granite statues, wrought-iron fences, marble tombs worthy of royalty— they are breathtaking. It feels like walking through an old church. There’s a sense of a sacred peace as you walk by shrine after shrine memorializing life. Your life pauses as you feel a delicate tug on your heart and mind. Whenever I find myself unfocused or unhappy, I take a walk in one of these cemeteries to remind myself that life is short and time is precious. That may sound strange. It’s a great reminder that time is a gift I need to cherish and respect, and that I need to do something worthwhile NOW!
I’ll stop in front of someone’s grave and calculate how long they lived. I see their beginning and their end date. I wonder what they did with the time they had. Did they pursue their passion? Did they spend their life in love with someone? Did they enjoy their friends and family? Did they live life to the fullest? Or did they waste their precious time and constantly procrastinate? Did they live in fear and regret? Did they live each day mulling over petty grievances and nursing old grudges? Did they play it safe and only do what they were expected to do? Did they take their time on earth for granted? Wandering around in those cities of stone, I can almost hear the voices of generations past asking me what I’m doing with my life. Am I wasting it? Or am I living every minute to the fullest? Think about it like this: If you knew you only had five more years to live, would it change your perspective on life? Would you suddenly value your time much more, and do more with it?
That’s what these cemetery trips do for me—they reinforce the need to have the right attitude about time. I’m not promised another thirty years on earth. I’m not even promised another thirty minutes. No one is. It’s a great reminder that time is a gift.
Once a moment is gone, it’s gone forever. The important thing is to make sure you’re as productive as you can be in every moment. I’m not talking about being an efficiency maniac. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey says it like this:
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
Just because you spend forty hours a week at your job and only twenty hours on the weekend with your family doesn’t mean your job is more important than your family. You have to work to eat, right? You have responsibilities and obligations you have to fulfill. Your livelihood is highly important, but are you sacrificing time in other areas of your life for your career?
However, you have to be careful about letting the little things in life take priority over the big things. Having a clean house is important, but are you obsessing about it to the point you’re spending less time with your children? Are your dreams important to you? If they are, do you spend time pursuing them? Do you realize when you decide to watch pointless TV shows or play computer games that you could have been spending time pursuing your passion? The saying goes, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” The same is true for time. If you don’t spend your time wisely, you’ll sit around and wonder where it all went.
Recently, I went back to the neighborhood where I grew up. I saw the old house. I saw what was left of the basketball backboard my dad built for me and my brothers still nailed to the tree. The familiar trees, the same streets—it brought back a lot of memories. I saw my old trail going down to the lake where I used to go fishing. I saw myself walking down the trail, fishing pole in hand, kicking the dirt…and dreaming of what my life would become.
Where did all the time go?
Time is so short, and there’s never enough of it for all you want to do. You have to prioritize your time for the things that are important to you. Time-management is self-management.
Frequently, I meet people who say they don’t have enough time to go after their dream, to write the book they’ve been thinking about, to gain the skills their changing industry requires, or to pursue an interest they’ve always had. When I hear those words, I think about a quote from H. Jackson Brown, Jr., author of Life’s Little Instruction Book:
Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo De Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.
How can you argue with that? We’re all given the same amount of time. The difference is these people decided to seize the moments they were given and do something great! As you go through your day, take a second to ask yourself where your mind is. Are you regretting the past, worrying about the future, or fully living in the present?
Make sure you Get off Your Attitude and SEIZE YOUR MOMENT in life!
“Remember that it is up to you to choose everyday to Get off Your Attitude and to create a positive lifestyle for yourself and others.” Ryan C. Lowe