Inside Looking Out: In just 15 seconds
The universe is 13.8 billion years old with no predictable end of its existence. In comparison to the life span of the cosmos, a human being who lives to be 75 years old will have a 15-second lifetime.
So, what have you been doing with your 15 seconds?
As I have said in this column before, for much of our lives we exist rather than live. No one can rise every morning and live meaningful moments for 24 hours straight. Things we do like eating meals, making money, watching TV and sleeping every night take up a sizable part of every day. If you think about it, boredom and mundane tasks eat up years and years of our heartbeats.
Author Daniel Kline wrote, “With nothing meaningful in life, nothing is interesting. Enter boredom. A bored man even longs for longing. He has time to fill, but there is nothing compelling to do.”
Yet we have the remainder of those hours, minutes and seconds to do something that matters as much to others as it does for ourselves.
There are those in uniforms whose jobs are to help us, save us and to protect us, but there are millions of people who never put on a wardrobe of matching tops and bottoms who do good and go unnoticed by the general public. Mothers and fathers raising children who grow up to contribute to bettering society have dedicated themselves to meaningful purpose.
Teachers can make a difference, too. I was privileged to have been an educator and coach for a long time and to have the opportunity to positively influence the lives of young people.
Doing something that has meaning for others is a choice we make, and that has been what someone I have gotten the privilege to know has done. I’ve built a working relationship with Nat Mundel, the CEO of Voyage Media, a company that is a major player in promoting the production of a Hollywood movie of my novel, “Upon a Field of Gold.”
Nat has been an adventurer and a professional mountain climber before creating an entertainment business for which the mission is to get the stories of unknown authors like me onto the big movie screen. Nat’s favorite quote comes from author Jim Collins in the book, “Good to Great.”
“For in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.”
When I look at this quote, my eyes stop at the word, “work.” I realize that it can be defined with many interpretations, but the bottom line is “work” requires commitment and effort along with the risk of failure.
Researcher Tess Brigham states a large percentage of the current generation who work hate their meaningless jobs. She says they have unrealistic expectations. They are impatient and frustrated because it takes too long for career advancement and they have this distorted view of reality promoted by social media that everyone else is having an amazing life that centers on making a lot of money. She also had found that part of the problem is employers are not providing meaningful work, so job satisfaction is very low.
On the other hand, it’s no surprise that people who like their jobs and have a positive effect upon others are the happiest, and that has little to do with large incomes.
I have been fortunate to be one of these people, knowing that each night I put my head on my pillow, I feel the satisfaction of a few ticks of my “15 seconds” of life. Even now, in my retirement years, when I write features, sports and this column for this newspaper, I’m delighted when readers tell me they enjoy the words I write.
The other part of Jim Collins’ quote that strikes me are the words, “In the end.” Once we hit our senior ages, we are fully aware that the end is much closer to us than the beginning. There is still time left to do meaningful work. Praise the grandfather who reads stories to his granddaughter. Give credit to the gray-haired woman from down the street who toils in her flower garden for all of us to enjoy. Doing anything meaningful brings with it a sense of purpose and the gift of emotional reward.
Author Kilroy J. Oldster wrote, “The song in our heart ultimately sustains us. Each of us possesses the ability to choose how we perceive life, determine what attitudes and viewpoint to endorse, and assign meaning to personal existence.”
When we sit back with our cups of coffee, when we watch sunsets with our glasses of wine, do we ask ourselves, “Am I living a meaningful life?”
Oldster adds, “Each day when we awaken from the bookmark of yesterday’s turmoil, we make choices of how to conduct our personal affairs. Each day we must decide if we will act humanely, ethically and accord dignity to everyone whom we encounter. … Each day is a test and with each day, we fill the pages of the novel that says who we are. … We all respond to someone whom loves other people, worships nature, and demonstrates that they know how to share their benevolence with others.”
According to our life span that comes and goes in the blink of the universe’s eye, we’d better not procrastinate to live meaningful. Fifteen seconds is all we have.
Rich Strack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.