Time is our most precious resource. Shelter, water, and sustenance too, yes, but also the stretch of time we devote to the things we love most in this world. It’s funny how rather than using those fleeting minutes to give back to humanity or to express the throbs of our aching hearts, we are choosing to remain in a state of perpetual distraction, interrupting our cadence of purpose with technological gadgets and personal advertisements boasted on various social media platforms. And why? Because they do their job. They keep our big brains entertained long enough to displace the whirlwind of emotions we can’t always confront on our own.
We have become almost socially inept in our desperation to stay absorbed in the very subjects we know deep down are making us more two-dimensional, walking the earth with nothing more enticing to give, other than our band of fake followers and ability to keep ourselves preoccupied for hours with the help of Apple’s latest edition.
What will make us smile as the wrinkled old person that’s stuffed into their death bed, waiting on their last remaining breath? Will it be all those imitative filtered photos we posted on Instagram and the likes they received? Will it be the highlights we opted for in summer? Netflix reruns? Or even the endless surge of disappointing news stories we flicked through upon our waking hours? It won’t be what “they” thought of us. It won’t be what we purchased. Or the stories we consumed, unless of course they brought us joy or inspiration. It will be our flesh and blood. Our tiny victories in the face of defeat. All those times we stood tall for the things we loved when all we really wanted to do was crumble. That is what will make us smile in our final moments.
Every day is a gift, and to maximize it, we need to block off time in our calendars for the things that bring us true happiness. True happiness is less transient than what we normally seek out and it often gives itself back to those in its vicinity, kind of like a pet; you give it love, and it gives it right back. True happiness lives in our core. It doesn’t rely on mood or the ever-changing factors of our environment. It’s who we actually are, without the distractions. This is why meditation has become so prevalent in many cultures. Why there has been a dramatic shift in awareness and learning to “let things be” or to “be more present.” When we hush these distractions, we find our true selves, and with that discovery comes joy in its primal form.
We keep using empty things to make ourselves feel full, like eating candy at every meal and expecting to feel nourished. We’ve become addicts. Obsessed with the very things that destroy us from the inside out, just so we can be ripe with gratification for a few solitary moments. “A minute on the lips, forever on the hips,” my mother always used to tell me. I think I’ll try and remember that the next time I’m spending my final hour before bed scrolling through Instagram feeds or burying myself in unnecessary work for the sake of not acknowledging my feelings due to their inconvenient truths. Confrontation of who we are is such a crucial part of our journey. Even if that confrontation means learning something about ourselves that we dislike. Can a video game improve if its creator is not made aware of its bugs? Can a grossly hostile manager become pacified if his employees don’t point out a need for change? Avoiding ourselves is accepting mediocrity. It’s saying, “I am who I am, and that’s that.” An infamous excuse we tell ourselves to relinquish the responsibility of changing. And consumerist cultures with credit cards only make evasion easier.
The reality is life is meant to give us more than we can chew. We’re not meant to get it right every time, but we are meant to actively participate in the lives we were given, rather than watch from the sidelines. We are meant to engage with people, rather than screens. To feed our souls, rather than deplete them. To learn and evolve rather than keep our heads down. I never said it was going to be easy, but I promise it will be worth it — so put your phone down and live as if today is your last day.