One overriding principle that I have carried with me almost as long as I can remember, back to my teenage years, is the visualization of me some day as an old man on a porch in a rocking chair. There are two versions of this vision that I remind myself of almost on a daily basis.
The first image, the one that I want to live to complete, is that of an old man in a rocking chair looking out from a porch overlooking a garden, and thinking to myself, “Self, you’ve lived a good life, a long life, a life of principle and purpose, of deciding what you wanted to do and then doing it. Not for any purpose other than the very fact that it is what I wanted to do with my life. I did it, lived it, and experienced it. It didn’t matter if it worked out, was successful in other people’s eyes, brought me fame or fortune, but the very fact that I set out to do it and accomplished what I had set out for is all the satisfaction that I could have ever received – because I lived my life the way I wanted to. Now I can sit in my rocking chair and reflect on a life well lived and know in my heart that I didn’t waste a minute of the time that was given to me on this earth, because I lived every minute of it!”
The second image, and the one that I want to avoid at all possible costs, is the same old man in a rocking chair on a porch overlooking his garden. But instead of reflecting on a life well lived, he constantly irritates everyone within earshot with his regrets and unhappiness. He complains about how unfair life is and envy’s other people for the things they have achieved and accomplished with their lives. He complains about how the cards of life have always been stacked against him, that he never had the advantages they had and that if it had been a level playing field then he too could be living a life equally as prosperous as theirs is. He could have done anything (insert laundry list of possibilities and grudges here) but either couldn’t or wouldn’t because it was always someone else’s fault for holding him back. The complaining is endless, and people just shake their heads and go inside to get away from the self pity and tirades against society – it was all, their fault! That’s why I was never able to become (again, insert the laundry list here)!
The truth is, I’ve lived my life in such a way that I have done everything that I wanted to do in it. I always started from the premise that the place that I am currently at is exactly where God wants me to be at this specific time in my life. I look at it as an opportunity for discovery to learn for myself exactly what His lessons are for me, that he has placed me here and now in this situation for a purpose and a reason. Like a child hunting for Easter eggs on Easter morning in a garden, I look around me from moment to moment to moment – with the anticipation of discovery. What lies around the next corner, in the next moment, from the next person that I’ll meet, from the next conversation that I’ll have – that God will place before me as an opportunity for self growth and discovery? I’m always eager, anticipating and looking for the next clue to be given to me at the most unexpected time of all!
If you picture yourself as a surfer, on your surf board and entering the “curl” of the wave, you have the exact snapshot of how you should live your live. The surfer is riding the leading edge of the wave, allowing the power and strength of that wave to propel him at high speed along the edge and tangential to the direction that the wave is moving forward. The concept here is to ride the leading edge of life – living in the moment, and experiencing all that it has to offer you as you move forward in time. The rest of the ocean lies behind that wave, but the power of the ocean lies in the wave that is in front of the body of water, the one that is breaking towards the shore. It is this power that lies in the current moment that you are living. All that is behind you, like the ocean behind the wave, is in your past – and is only the history, memory and past experience of your life. Not that your past is unimportant, but your past is behind you – you can’t do anything about anything that has happened before. The only thing that you can influence directly is this very moment that you are alive and experiencing right now – this very second in time. The future lies before you, but you are powerless to do anything about it. You can’t influence it, you can’t alter it and you can’t avoid it – but you can prepare for it in this very moment that you are alive.
Many people have spoken about living in the moment and making the most out of the time you have. Tim McGraw has a touching song called, “Live Like You We’re Dying.” Many people who survive a life threatening accident, illness or tragedy of some kind, emerge from the experience vowing to live each moment as if it may be their last. The saying, “Carpe Diem” or “Seize the Day” captures the spirit of this life philosophy. I like to think of it in this way: The only thing in your life that really counts is the next 10 seconds. Every second of your life this 10 second window of time and opportunity resets and moves forward throughout your entire life – as an endless 10 second interval. The reason that the next 10 seconds is so important as a concept and a philosophy of living is because it is only in the next ten seconds that you can actually make a difference in your life and in the lives of those around you. These 10 seconds become the “active” part of your live. It is the leading edge of life where you are actually “living, experiencing, feeling, doing, acting, reacting, discovering, exploring, talking, breathing, eating, listening, sharing, feeling, and loving.” Once those actions are completed, it becomes a part of your history – much like the ocean of water that lies behind the wave. You can’t change anything behind you; you can’t change anything that lies in the future – out in front of you – the only thing that you can affect is the here and now as you live these next 10 seconds.
One of the sayings that I often recall is the phrase that, “Life is what happens while you’re making plans.” So many people try to plan and choreograph their lives to the point that there is no room for spontaneity. Everything on a schedule, planned far in advance – the day, the week, the month, and the year. We even make plans for our retirement as if it is a reservation of some sort with destiny. We decide to “travel when we retire” or “take the time to watch the sunset” or “do something that we always wanted to do.” The future comes at us with no reservations in hand, no guaranteed outcome and no date planner. There is no guarantee or right to a retirement. In fact today just may be the last day we are given in this life. What I type in the next 10 seconds may be my very last – so it is in these 10 seconds that I have available to me at this very moment that have to convey my passion about life and living to you, the reader – because it just may be the last thing I ever write. So we live on the edge of the bow wave of life – pushed along by the momentum that life throws at us, riding the curl of the wave of life at what is the very peak of life’s power and purpose. We live it with the attention; the ambition; the energy; the enthusiasm; the power; the responsibility; the purpose; the care; the concern; the emotion; the heart; the joy; the hope; the courage; the drive; the feeling; the thought; the caring; and the love that this moment in life deserves from us and demands from us.
Because the very moment that we live in, this very 10 second interval in which we are breathing, thinking and our heart is beating – is your life. Life is only but a moment in time – repeated over and over again in 10 second intervals from the moment you were conceived until the least beat of your heart. You are actually alive only in this very instant, and this very instant is the only time that you have to do anything with your life. That’s what makes this very heartbeat at this very second in this very moment the only one that counts – not only because it may very well be your last, but because it is the one that you are actually experiencing, actually engaged in and the one that provides you with your current pulse – the one that you are experiencing now. All the heartbeats that you’ve had from the day you were born are but memories. All of the heartbeats that lie in your future have no guarantee of arriving. The only thing that really, really, really matters is – NOW!
So the very essence of life is that the only thing that really, really matters is the next 10 seconds of your life, as you move in 10 second intervals slowly into an unknown and uncertain future. It’s the next 10 seconds that matter; your current breath of air; the heartbeat that is coursing through you arteries right at this very moment; the thought that you are currently thinking; the smile that you hold on your face right now; the act of kindness that you are currently engaged in doing; the help and assistance that you are providing someone; the mentorship that you are displaying; the decency that you are currently showing; this moment that you are actually living; the experience that you are participating in; the gift that you are giving; the joy that you hold in your heart this very moment; the sorrow that you are sharing; the love that you are giving; the time that you are sharing with someone; the help that you are giving; the aid that you are giving to someone in need; the charity that you are supporting; the prayer that you are making; and the angel that you are entertaining unaware; and the knock at your door from Jesus Christ Himself offering you the opportunity to invite Him into your life at this very moment in time. The next 10 seconds allows you the power to change your life forever, and the ability to change all of the hearts in the people that you come into contact with – family, friend or stranger. We know that a single heart can change in a moment of time, turning a new leaf in life, going from what was into all that is possible. Every moment of every day; with everyone you meet; with every conversation that you have; with every smile that you offer; with every kind remark you make; with every offer of a helping hand; with every burden that you help someone carry; with every expression of love you give to someone – you can affect another life, another heart, another 10 seconds of someone else’s life – that can give to them the reason to love again; the reason to be happy again; the reason to smile again; the reason to hold joy in their heart again; the reason to change for the better again; the very reason to LIVE again. These next 10 seconds are all yours…make the most of them and make them COUNT!