Consumed by what You Want? Learn to Live

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Yesterday was hectic. Last week was hectic. Last month was hectic. Then one day, I paused. That day, I noticed a white strand of hair. I couldn’t miss it.
It was at the front of my head, right in the middle… a white strand of hair that stood up, defying all attempts to confine it to the cornrow plaits that held my hair in place.
When I saw the white strand, I was having a hectic morning, rushing to drive my husband to work, take my kids to nursery, make a number of phone calls, attend a couple meetings and keep abreast of tons of e-mail.
I saw it and time stood still.
You know that feeling? It’s almost as though you are standing in a vacuum and everything is swirling around fast and furious outside. The noises around you could be deafening, but the sounds are almost muffled to you… as though you are hearing it through water. That is how I felt when I stood in the mirror watching that white strand that divided my hair right in the middle – youth from old age.
Hey, don’t get me wrong. Seeing a white strand of hair in the middle of my head did not traumatize me. I have no fear of maturing. Matter of fact, I welcome it. It is a whole new adventure, an opportunity to enjoy new things and to see life and experience the same things through different lenses. Still, I looked at that white hair, and I remembered clearly when it was a huge deal to see a strand of hair growing under my arm. Where did the years go?
Now people, I asked this question when I saw my first strand of white hair. How many of us wait until we are lying on sick or deathbeds to do the same?
My humble view is that too many of us lose sight of time, as we spend our lives chasing after things we want. We set goals and we give chase after those things that make up only a small part of life. We pursue academic qualifications, a career, material possessions, and love, hoping to validate our lives by achievements, only to realize that every time we cross one hurdle or master one accomplishment, there is just one more before we can say we are satisfied. So we chase and chase and chase at full speed, like the pup chasing his own tail while the years pass us by, putting off till tomorrow, the option that we have to live today.
Academic qualifications? We spend years at university trying to develop our knowledge from the experiences and teachings of others who lived. In many instances, after almost a quarter of our life is past (for some people more), we earn a piece of paper that we can wave with pride, a piece of paper as evidence, in theory, that we have read or learnt what someone else has lived and experienced.
Career? We measure our success in life by the rate we climb within an organization or by the size of the company that we form as entrepreneurs and the staff that we can lord it over for eight hours every day. We hold on with super-human strength to jobs… because we have allowed our jobs to define our lives.
Money? We measure the quality of our life by our income and savings, determining, by our spending power, whether life is good for us or bad. For many of us, the money that we have determines whether we have lived. Or the debts that we have determine whether we can live.
Love? Perhaps we developed in our minds, the prototype of the perfect man or woman and we began a Don Quixote type of quest to find true love.
Half of our life is gone. And we believe that because we have not lived, life is on pause. We always think we have enough time. Enough time to live. But have we ever really stopped to think of how silly our concept of living is? There will always be another issue, another quest, another lure that would keep us back from life in its purest form.
When would we really do the things that we want to in life? Would we wait until we are in our old age, or when our health issues and trips down memory lane become life itself?
When do we really take the time to get up early in the morning, and watch the sun rise, or thank God for another day just as the sun dips beyond the horizon. Another day, another blessing, another chance to live. How many of us can say we have truly lived?
Hey, I can be honest. To this moment, I have put living on pause, and spent my waking moments chasing after blind dreams and fretting over lost ones, supporting causes, planning next steps for family, career, debts, and possessions… always planning to live after… Until I looked in the mirror and I saw my first white hair.
Living should not be a sacrifice.
We should not have to sacrifice a day’s work or a month’s pay to live…
That does not mean that I advocate leaving all responsibilities, and chasing after a good time. I am saying, do not become consumed by the mundane things in life… for without realizing it, those things become you. Though they are important, life is more than a career or a degree or a fancy car or a dream home or even a good spouse.
When you learn to appreciate that, then fear of losing material things won’t scare you or the thirst for acquiring things won’t consume you. When you learn to appreciate the little things, which are really huge things that we take for granted, like opening our eyes every morning to a new day… when we learn to appreciate these things, then we can begin to live.
So, I am saying to you as I am saying to myself… Slow down, breathe, look around, pace yourself, enjoy the things that really matter, focus, relax, live. There is no need to sacrifice a chance to live and in living you do not have to sacrifice anything else. When we learn to live and enjoy that great gift that God has given to each of us… when we learn to appreciate the blessings before us, and to enjoy the things that we have without being consumed by the things we want.
Then we would be able to live, live like never before. I have decided to live.

Yesterday was hectic. Last week was hectic. Last month was hectic. Then one day, I paused. That day, I noticed a white strand of hair. I couldn’t miss it.

It was at the front of my head, right in the middle… a white strand of hair that stood up, defying all attempts to confine it to the cornrow plaits that held my hair in place.

When I saw the white strand, I was having a hectic morning, rushing to drive my husband to work, take my kids to nursery, make a number of phone calls, attend a couple meetings and keep abreast of tons of e-mail.

I saw it and time stood still.

You know that feeling? It’s almost as though you are standing in a vacuum and everything is swirling around fast and furious outside. The noises around you could be deafening, but the sounds are almost muffled to you… as though you are hearing it through water. That is how I felt when I stood in the mirror watching that white strand that divided my hair right in the middle – youth from old age.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. Seeing a white strand of hair in the middle of my head did not traumatize me. I have no fear of maturing. Matter of fact, I welcome it. It is a whole new adventure, an opportunity to enjoy new things and to see life and experience the same things through different lenses. Still, I looked at that white hair, and I remembered clearly when it was a huge deal to see a strand of hair growing under my arm. Where did the years go?

“… too many of us lose sight of time, as we spend our lives chasing after things we want.”

Now people, I asked this question when I saw my first strand of white hair. How many of us wait until we are lying on sick or deathbeds to do the same?

My humble view is that too many of us lose sight of time, as we spend our lives chasing after things we want. We set goals and we give chase after those things that make up only a small part of life. We pursue academic qualifications, a career, material possessions, and love, hoping to validate our lives by achievements, only to realize that every time we cross one hurdle or master one accomplishment, there is just one more before we can say we are satisfied. So we chase and chase and chase at full speed, like the pup chasing his own tail while the years pass us by, putting off till tomorrow, the option that we have to live today.

Academic qualifications? We spend years at university trying to develop our knowledge from the experiences and teachings of others who lived. In many instances, after almost a quarter of our life is past (for some people more), we earn a piece of paper that we can wave with pride, a piece of paper as evidence, in theory, that we have read or learnt what someone else has lived and experienced.

Career? We measure our success in life by the rate we climb within an organization or by the size of the company that we form as entrepreneurs and the staff that we can lord it over for eight hours every day. We hold on with super-human strength to jobs… because we have allowed our jobs to define our lives.

For many of us, the money that we have determines whether we have lived.

Money? We measure the quality of our life by our income and savings, determining, by our spending power, whether life is good for us or bad. For many of us, the money that we have determines whether we have lived. Or the debts that we have determine whether we can live.

Love? Perhaps we developed in our minds, the prototype of the perfect man or woman and we began a Don Quixote type of quest to find true love.

Half of our life is gone. And we believe that because we have not lived, life is on pause. We always think we have enough time. Enough time to live. But have we ever really stopped to think of how silly our concept of living is? There will always be another issue, another quest, another lure that would keep us back from life in its purest form.

When would we really do the things that we want to in life? Would we wait until we are in our old age, or when our health issues and trips down memory lane become life itself?

When do we really take the time to get up early in the morning, and watch the sun rise, or thank God for another day just as the sun dips beyond the horizon. Another day, another blessing, another chance to live. How many of us can say we have truly lived?

Hey, I can be honest. To this moment, I have put living on pause, and spent my waking moments chasing after blind dreams and fretting over lost ones, supporting causes, planning next steps for family, career, debts, and possessions… always planning to live after… Until I looked in the mirror and I saw my first white hair.

Living should not be a sacrifice.

We should not have to sacrifice a day’s work or a month’s pay to live…

That does not mean that I advocate leaving all responsibilities, and chasing after a good time. I am saying, do not become consumed by the mundane things in life… for without realizing it, those things become you. Though they are important, life is more than a career or a degree or a fancy car or a dream home or even a good spouse.

When you learn to appreciate that, then fear of losing material things won’t scare you or the thirst for acquiring things won’t consume you. When you learn to appreciate the little things, which are really huge things that we take for granted, like opening our eyes every morning to a new day… when we learn to appreciate these things, then we can begin to live.

So, I am saying to you as I am saying to myself… Slow down, breathe, look around, pace yourself, enjoy the things that really matter, focus, relax, live. There is no need to sacrifice a chance to live and in living you do not have to sacrifice anything else. When we learn to live and enjoy that great gift that God has given to each of us… when we learn to appreciate the blessings before us, and to enjoy the things that we have without being consumed by the things we want. Then we would be able to live, live like never before. I have decided to live.

 

Afiya Ray is a freelance correspondent with over 12 years' experience in the media and energy sector. Check out her blog http://marketinggirlsclub.blogspot.com/.

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