sifu snow
Youth is not wasted on the young. Time, like anything, can only be wasted by the wasteful. The years we have left to live is of little import when it is squandered through misaligned living. Those who would wish for more time should, instead of wringing their hands in anxiety or clenched frustration, devote this effort toward achieving presence in the moment. When we dwell in the past, fixate on the future, or otherwise give attention and energy toward things that are not nurturing, the living part of life is stripped from us. Although some greet advancing years with a sense of betrayed indignation, I believe what one gets out of life is not measured in quantity of time, but rather in quality. When I was living on Vashon island during my 30’s, I woke up one morning and ventured out to the rocky beach just yards from our home. The dawn’s stillness was broken only by the call of birds and the gentle lapping of the tide. Out in the shallows, a heron spears a rockfish, and as it raised its prize into the air, an eagle swoops down and snatches the fish with the agility of an acrobat. I was in awe of all that was around me. The smells of the beach and the cool foggy air, the movement of the predators in my midst, the sounds of their cries and the world around. There was so much to this moment that I was almost overwhelmed. If one is paying enough attention and truly cherishes the value of a moment, a lifetime of fulfillment can be taken in every day. It was then that I realized, if I had just one calendar year on this island, living this lifestyle, with the beauty and passion that greeted me every day, I could be satisfied with just one year of life. To need more belies an insatiability that is only pursuant to numb oblivion. How many of us wish for more years and yet the years we have are spent in numb complacent comfort? My saying this does certainly not imply that I have never succumbed to the lure of inattentiveness, but those points where I am truly alive and engaged remind me of how much can be mined from each moment. I challenge myself, and challenge you dear reader, to consider this perspective as a cornerstone to intentional living. What I and all of us need is not more longevity, but more intentionality. If you don’t find yourself passionately and emotionally immersed in each day, you are not truly paying attention. Whatever brings you to tears of sadness, cries of joy, explosive movement, intellectual epiphanies, fits of rage, frustrated angst, humble awe and electrified domination is what makes you alive–not time. Capture the moment, mine it for all it offers, embark upon each day with curious expectation, and no longer bemoan your finite existence.