The most important thing we all have is time. If you read this to the end, you will never get that time back. Whether my words are worth your time or not, the time is gone. The pandemic has caused me to think more about time and experiences. We’ve become a society that values “things” over “experiences.” The recent holiday season was a good example of how frustrated people can be when they can’t get the “things” and they are cautioned about having the “experiences.”
At some point in our lives, we come to realize that the number of days ahead is much shorter than the number of days behind. It’s just a fact of life, and for me, it’s changed my thinking. I’m not interested in “things” much at all, but “experiences” are important to me. “Maybe next year” has a very different meaning to me than it did 50, 40 or even 30 years ago. John Fogarty and CCR have a song, “Someday Never Comes”. It’s worth a listen. Don’t take this as being morbid, but rather being realistic.
The pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, but I think for folks my age, it’s very troubling. People with school-age kids have been hit hard, as have small businesses, and many others.
At some point things will turn around (we’ll likely not ever see what was normal again), and life will move on. For us, there’s not that much time left, so every experience is precious. I’m not making big plans for 10 years from now, but I hope to be making plans 10 years from now.
I’ve been doing things that were important to me during the pandemic because those experiences are things I can never get back again. I didn’t do crazy stuff and put myself in a situation where I could hurt someone, or someone could hurt me. I didn’t do those important things out of rebellion. I did them because they were important to me, and I knew that I might not get the opportunity to do them again.
Life is a balance and sometimes the balance is difficult. It certainly has been the last year and a half.
Over the years, I’ve received some great gifts, but honestly, most of them are long forgotten. That doesn’t mean they weren’t appreciated or special. It just means that they don’t last. I remember experiences from high school, the Navy, marriages, houses, friends, kids, organizations. The list is endless. Those experiences will be with me forever and I’m looking forward to making more.
I’m not suggesting you forego gifts for special occasions or Christmas, but also think about experiences that you can create that will stay with you and the recipient for a lifetime. A combination of my age and the pandemic has made me realize that I have enough stuff in my life. As a matter of fact, I think most people have enough stuff. Even kids.
The more effort we put into anything, the more reward we get. A family trip to a special place. A pass to a ski area, fitness center or anything else that someone enjoys. Even a gift card to a restaurant will be an experience that someone will think of you as they are enjoying their meal.
“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.” That quote from John Lennon is so true.
We waste so much time trying to control every aspect of our lives when we’re all out of control. Let things go. Yes. There will be causes, and championing those causes is admirable. Don’t let them consume you. Enjoy life. I know you hear it all the time, but every day is a blessing. Look for the humor in things. I find it everywhere. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. It means that I choose to look at the irony in life rather than let it consume me.
Waylon Jennings was talking about me when he wrote, “I’ve always been crazy, but it kept me from going insane.”
Take a deep breath. Relax. It’s all going to be all right. Create experiences for you and the people that are important to you, whoever they are. Remember: Someday never comes.
Bill Packard lives in Union and is the founder of BPackard.com. He is a speaker, author, small business coach and consultant.