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The New Rich | #MyFridayStory No. 86

The New Rich | #MyFridayStory No. 86

As you grow older in age, when you have passed the halfway mark, you start to realise that life is fleeting and the time you have left with those you love is all that matters.

We are all guilty of putting off a phone call to a needy friend, or to visit an elderly parent, or spending time with our children. We are always in a hurry, believing there will always be tomorrow. But one day, there won’t be a tomorrow. We are all going to have a last day.

Time is the one thing we all have the same amount of. We all get 24 hours a day. That’s it. No amount of money, status or qualifications is going to get you more than everyone else. In that given time, we sleep for 8 hours, that’s one third of the day done. We work for another 8 hours, that’s another third gone. We’re left with 8 hours to spend with those who matter. That’s not a lot.

I remember as a life insurance consultant, we would use the number of pay-days a client has left until retirement. The effect was startling. When you see your life broken up into a finite number of ‘events’ such as pay-days, you suddenly realise you don’t have as much time left as you thought you have.

In a world that is ‘always on,’ our conversations have become shorter, broken down into characters or emojis, hurriedly typed on our phone, without much thought. We don’t have deep meaningful conversations anymore, instead we engage in meaningless, shallow conversations on social media. We collect ‘likes,’ ‘followers,’ and ‘fans’ believing these are a measure of our likeability and our success.

We are quick to send a hurtful email or a snide message to someone we regard as lesser. We don’t stop to think how that message will impact the person or what sort of day they might be having. Because of an argument or disagreement, we even treat those who matter most to us with disdain, never thinking it could be the last interaction we have with them.

This past week, two friends of mine passed away. I was left feeling remorseful for not having reached out to them recently before their passing. Although we shared the occasional text message, I never got the chance to sit and chat and laugh like we used to. Now there will never be another chance.

I was fortunate to see both my parents live a good long life. I was even more fortunate to have spent lots of quality time with them before they passed. But I will never get to sit around a dining room table for Sunday lunch with my parents. I won’t get to taste my Mom’s bread pudding or hear my Dad calling me, “Fransie!” like only he could. Those things are gone and now live only in my memory.

John R. Powers tells a story in his charming book The Junk-Drawer Corner-Store Front-Porch Blues of a time when he and his brother were growing up in Chicago. One day his brother was running out the house because he was late to do his paper route. As he was passing John, he shouted, “Please make up my bed for me, I’m late. Or else Mom will be mad with me!” John remembers saying something like, “Aww man, not the bed! Okay, I’ll do it, but you owe me!” His brother thanked him and ran out the door.

He never saw his brother alive again. He died in an accident while doing his paper route. John goes on to conclude, “There is a first time for everything, and there most certainly will be a last.” Make sure your last words are kinder than necessary.

Srinivas Rao in his book The Scenic Route speaks of his new definition of being rich.

“If you’re a parent, think about the time you have left with your kids, and vice versa. If you have a best friend who doesn’t live close by, pick up the phone and call, despite the physical distance or the time difference. Pick up the phone and call. Write a letter instead of an email. Book a flight. We need to hear each other’s voices to touch each other’s hearts truly. And you can’t do that with tweets, status updates, and text messages.”

I agree with him and he puts it best:

“The ultimate measure of a meaningful life is time well spent on things and with the people who matter most to us.”

That’s my new definition of rich

I hope you have an awesome weekend. 😉

You can get a free copy of Srinivas Rao’s brilliant self-published book The Scenic Route here

Please feel free to drop me a mail frans@leap1st.com I’d like that, and if you would like to receive #MyFridayStory each week, join here

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