Letter 33: On The Shortness Of Life


Current unlucky occasions have made me take inventory and consider my life. Our beloved canine sadly, tragically, unexpectedly handed away final week. She was too younger. She was household. It was sudden. It was surprising. It was saddening. It was intestine wrenching. It was heartbreaking. It was the worst day of my life, by far. However, it was life. And life goes on.

It occurred, actually, 20 minutes earlier than I used to be to move to the airport to make a everlasting transfer abroad, relocating from Munich to Dubai. I used to be all packed. Able to go. One final walky. You already know what they are saying.

This final week has been harrowing. However, life goes on. All of us grieve in numerous methods. Writing is one such approach for me.

As I’ve been digging deep to try to discover no matter instruments I’ve inside me to assist me navigate these instances, I discovered myself pondering again to one thing I wrote precisely one yr in the past at the moment: Infinite Remorse. It stays my hottest piece of writing, and it’s the one I’m most happy with.

Infinite Remorse was about making an attempt to align our feelings with our actions, and never with the result of these actions. It was very money-centric, and spoke quite a bit concerning the remorse of shedding some huge cash, or nearly making some huge cash, or not making as a lot as you can have, and so forth. Cash was simply the conduit I used to be utilizing to convey the underlying message, which dates again hundreds of years to the Stoics:

That is my north star, and has allowed me to navigate these tough instances. With the ability to apply this logic to your life and mind-set is the best life hack of all time. The OG life hack, if you’ll. Not each concept that survives hundreds of years is price giving credence to, however this one is.

You completely and unequivocally can not management what’s going to occur to you in life. You would possibly suppose that you could, however you can not. The ONLY factor we now have true management over are our ideas/actions, and the way we react to exterior occasions.

Essentially the most eloquent, modern-day clarification of this that I’ve come throughout is a school graduation speech by David Foster Wallace: That is Water. I encourage everybody to observe the entire thing, after which rewatch it usually. I do.

The tl;dr (and I hesitate to present one, as a result of I actually need everybody to observe/hear for themselves) is that our default modes of pondering are fully self-centered, however that at each second of every single day we will make a aware option to view the world nonetheless we would like. It’s very laborious, however it’s potential, and I posit that it’s completely price making an attempt.

I’ve additionally been pondering quite a bit about time, impressed by re-reading the namesake of this Letter, an essay by Seneca: on the shortness of life.

The acute tl;dr of the e-book is that life will not be brief, however it’s made brief by those that waste it.

My favorite quote from the textual content:

Even when all the brilliant intellects who ever lived had been to comply with ponder this one theme, they might by no means sufficiently specific their shock at this fog within the human thoughts.

Males don’t let anybody seize their property, and if there’s the slightest dispute about their boundaries they rush to stones and arms; however they permit others to encroach on their lives.

You can find nobody keen to share out his cash; however to what number of does every of us divide up his life!

Individuals are frugal in guarding their private property; however as quickly because it involves squandering time they’re most wasteful of the one factor through which it’s proper to be stingy.

The previous trope is {that a} billionaire is dying and on his demise mattress says he would quit his total fortune for an additional week along with his family members.

You possibly can’t take cash to the grave. You possibly can’t take something to the grave. So, maybe, cease dwelling as if you may. This doesn’t imply cash is unhealthy, or evil, or that we shouldn’t pursue it; but it surely does imply that it’s secondary to time.

This graph of who Individuals spend their time with at numerous phases of their life is eye opening:

For most individuals, after your 20s, you’re spending a tiny period of time with your loved ones and even with your folks. Punk 6529 did the maths, truly, on this wonderful thread.

Rising up you see your dad and mom and siblings and faculty associates just about each single day. You get to spend time with them 300+ days a yr. When you hit 25+, for most individuals, you’re in all probability solely going to see them a handful of instances a yr. Extrapolate out the remainder of your life and also you’ve already spent over 99% of the time you’ll ever spend with them.

Let that sink in.

Treasure the moments you’ve got together with your closest family and friends, and attempt to spend as a lot time with them as you may, when you can. Perhaps say sure to a couple extra lunches with associates, and no to a couple extra enterprise conferences.

Additionally, get used to spending time alone.

Nothing, to my mind-set, is a greater proof of a properly ordered thoughts than a person’s means to cease simply the place he’s and go a while in his personal firm

Lastly, and that is to myself greater than anybody else:

This isn’t one thing I actually needed to cope with and handle till a yr or so in the past. Only a few individuals ever actually needed to speak to me or ask issues of me.

Now, I get numerous DMs a day and pings in numerous Discord servers:

“hey can I ask you a fast query”

“simply despatched you a FR, are you able to settle for please?”

“would like to hop on a 15 minute name to attach””

“can I get your recommendation please?”

and these are the real ones that I actually do wish to have interaction with, there’s a tonne extra which are nearer to spam (“can I share my undertaking with you”, “what are your charges for shilling on Twitter”, and so forth).

It’s actually robust ignoring individuals or saying no to them. By nature i’m a individuals pleaser and I wish to reply everybody and chat with everybody, however then you definitely contemplate that it’s 5 minutes right here, quarter-hour there, half-hour right here. It’s nonstop. Everybody has good intentions, however nearly everybody additionally has egocentric intentions. I don’t imply that in a foul approach, however principally the explanation everyone seems to be reaching out is as a result of they need one thing from me, and that one thing all the time prices time, which till not too long ago I used to be fairly fortunately doling out nonstop.

All those that name you to themselves draw you away from your self

In direction of the top of 2022 I bought fairly burned out b/c I used to be doing an excessive amount of of this. I truly took it a step within the excessive path and never solely was I saying sure to everybody, I used to be going out of my option to try to arrange extra calls and to attach with anybody and everybody who needed to speak.

Add all of this on prime of working an organization, managing a neighborhood, and making an attempt to have a household life. One thing was gonna undergo. Truly, actually all the pieces suffered. I used to be no good to anybody.

That is what my calendar seemed like in the direction of the top of final yr:

It was nonstop conferences, podcast recordings, twitter areas, and so forth. This isn’t a calendar to be happy with. Sure being busy is nice, and being productive is nice, however stability is necessary.

This has all been an enormous wake-up name. It’s time to start out valuing my time greater than I worth different issues. I encourage everybody to take this method. Time is LITERALLY essentially the most worthwhile factor we now have. We expect it’s infinite as a result of we don’t like to consider demise, and we usually don’t suppose twice about losing it as a result of it’s intangible, ephemeral, and it simply retains coming! There’s extra time tomorrow, and the day after, and subsequent week. Till there isn’t.

This doesn’t imply I’m going to cease responding to individuals, but it surely means I’m going to set boundaries and solely allocate a lot time per day/week to it. It additionally means I must put in place higher programs and filters to help with all of it. Taking again your time doesn’t imply you must be a chilly, merciless, ruthless individual. It simply requires extra conscientiousness and energy into fascinated about the way you’re going to deal with correspondence.

Life will not be brief. We make it brief.

I wish to share one final piece on time, and it’s this incredible article by Tim City of Wait However Why.

He breaks down life into one week blocks. That is it. That is what number of blocks of life we now have (if we’re fortunate).

A Human Life in Weeks

American Life in Weeks

I encourage you to suppose about your time extra. To worth your time extra. To respect your time extra. No one else will. Everybody else is simply too busy fascinated about themselves and their very own time.

75 Ben Franklin Quotes that will change your life - quotelust.com

Stay in a approach so that you don’t get up in the future many years sooner or later and surprise the place all of it went, and what the hell occurred. Cease losing your single most precious useful resource, time.

Begin dwelling now.

Household, associates, well being, fame. Dwelling a great and virtuous life, being a great individual, doing good issues. Leaving the world a greater place than you discovered it. This, to me, is what it means to dwell. NFTs are nice, cash is nice, however always remember that on the finish of the day

we’re all stardust.


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