“There’s plenty of time.” (But what if there’s not?)
I’ve been working on a new, non-profit writing project that I’ll share tomorrow. Here’s a preview of the concept—for more on the project itself, see the note at the end or check back tomorrow.
A specter is haunting the internet. Everywhere you go, you hear about how you should slow down. First it was slow food (a good thing). Then there was slow living (not so good) and the rejection of striving and effort (even worse).
The central part of this message is: “There’s plenty of time. Stop hurrying and take it easy. Bake cakes, play in the forest, do what you want.”
I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past few months, and tomorrow’s project is an attempt to say something different.
The central part of the alternative message is: “HURRY UP. Life is short, so we should put our limited time to good use.”
Why so intense? Because we only get one chance.
Why the rush? Because we’ve got a lot to do and a short amount of time to do it.
A common scenario involves imagining that today was your last day on earth:
What would you do if this was it? You have only one day to live.
It’s a good question to think about, but not sufficient on its own. If today were your last day, you might tell someone you loved them. You might try to make amends with someone you had wronged. You might enjoy the time as much as possible, and you might indeed bake a cake.
All of these things are good, but you can do them anytime. No need to wait for the warning of a last day that you’ll never receive. Most of us don’t get the chance to know when our last day is, and even if we do, we’re not usually in a position to make real changes.
Besides, a single day is short-term by design, and you’ll never create anything with lasting value in the short-term. Sure, you can “live in the present”—but if you want to build something beautiful, you’d better be thinking about the future as well.
Instead of watching life as it passes you by, what if you actively worked on crafting a legacy composed of creative work that helps others?
What if there was a systematic method of “legacy work” that allowed you to build this enduring record step-by-step?
Yes, there might be plenty of time left. But what if there’s not?
There is an urgency to life, whether you want it or not. When you embrace the urgency instead of ignoring it, you can create something that changes the world. Oh, and you can do this in a fun way that makes the best use of your own talent and motivation.
In a world of take-it-easy, who needs a life oriented about effort and achievement?
Well, I certainly do. And perhaps you do too.
Tomorrow morning I’ll release a new manifesto, the first in more than two years. It’s all about living with urgency and how you can build something over time. If you find it worthy of attention, I’d be grateful for your help in spreading the word.
Photo by Anne McCarthy