Your time is non-refundable.

Time is non-refundable.

“I remember one long-ago evening, on an overcrowded train to Philadelphia, hearing a young woman moan to her mother, ‘God, I wish we were there already!’ Her white-haired mother replied eloquently, ‘Darling, never wish away a minute of your life.'”

Travels with Epicurus, by Daniel Klein.

I love this little story because it reminds me of my own mother, and she must have said that to me a hundred times over. It was one of her catchphrases – I think she would say it to stop us complaining when we were kids, but I know she believed every word of it.

‘Son, never wish away your life. Live every minute of it as best you can.’

When I think back, I now know that I had spectacular parents. I think they honed their skills in the ten children that went before me, so they were able to deposit on me some well-refined gems of wisdom.

My father would always say…

‘Life is long if you get it wrong.’ 

That has forever stuck with me. I am clear that life isn’t short when we claim it to be so. 

Life moves so quickly, and time fly’s past.’

We often waste the time that we are given. I know what my father meant now that I am an older and a much more wiser adult. 

As a youth, with his words about life being long, I heard him telling me not to make mistakes and choose wisely. Now, as an adult, I hear his words paint a picture of the ills of procrastination. Of wasting time wishing for what could have been, what I should have done or what I missed or deserved.

‘Life is long if you get it wrong.’

He was a sagacious man, my father. He would always say…

‘Concentrate on the hear and now, it is so much more rewarding.’ 

He had so much to give and gave it his all. I am proud that he was my father and that he left me with a deep, inquisitive mind because he would encourage me to look beyond what I could see.

‘Take the time to think, son, that’s what others don’t do – be in the minority on that front.’

My father died slowly from lung cancer, and in the end, he refused treatment. He was comfortable and proud of his life and was happy but tired in the final moments. One of the last conversations I had with him was when he was very sick, and I went to see him in the hospital, and I spoke in with raised voice because I wanted him to hear what I was saying.

He beckoned me closer and asked me to lean in. Once I was in earshot, he said…

‘Son, I am dying, not deaf, so you don’t need to shout.’

As I pulled away, I could see his smile on his face and the glint in his eye.

‘Always keep a sense of humour, son.’

…I heard him say as he closed his eyes and went back into his resting posture. 

He smiled a peaceful smile. I could see he loved being a father right up to the end, and he made the most of every minute of it.

He was the man. The father of twelve children and, along with my mum, kept us all on the straight and narrow while growing up in a slum housing scheme in Glasgow.

Time caught up with him. Time catches up with us all, and what time we waste procrastinating over stuff is not refundable. It is gone. You don’t get it back. 

There is no afterlife, reincarnation and remarkable added journey for the select few. There is no Rapture – it is just the here and now, and we should embrace that.

Shock horror, I hear the card-carrying religious types say. But you have not got a simple scrap of evidence to prove otherwise, so as far as I am concerned when it is dark and your time is up – then it is dark. You are gone.

I know you will reciprocate the argument using the same play, and I have no scrap of evidence to solder my position. I hear you, but I chose not to listen. When the time comes, it will be the end of my days. The end of your days. 

I would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to my life, and so I will make the most of it and embrace the end when it comes.

The darkness.

Make the most of the light because you don’t get a do-over.

You only get one shot. 


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