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Time: The early years.
In the years after you’re born, the passage of time seems to open doors and present you with new opportunities. At first you can’t do anything but mess yourself and cry when you’re hungry. Then a little time goes by and voila, you’re walking. A little more time and you’re talking. Before you know it, you can drive and you’ve got a curfew that lasts until the small hours of the morning. You make friends, get involved in extracurricular activities and gradually gain more freedom and control in your life (assuming you don’t make any decisions that cause mom and dad to take that freedom away).
Once you cross into adulthood and become a functioning member of society, you wake up one morning and you realize that “Time” has quietly opened all of the remaining doors and you’ve got the freedom and opportunity to do just about anything you can think of. It’s an amazing feeling.
Time: The middle and later years.
Then a funny thing starts to happen. Not long after you can buy a house or legally take your first drink, you come to a door that’s closed. “Hmmm. That’s weird. I thought everything was open.” Looking around, you see that all the other doors are still open, so you write it off as a fluke.
But as the years continue to pass and you go about living your life, you start coming across other doors that are either slightly ajar, closed or (worse yet) locked. And that’s when you realize that rather than opening new doors, Time has started closing them.
It’s gradual, but consistent. Each year Time closes 52 doors marked “Weekends,” one marked “Christmas” and one marked “Birthdays.” You make decisions that put you into a certain career or location and the doors that you didn’t choose get closed. Your physical abilities change and doors like “Marathon” or “Learn to Snowboard” that were wide open in your 20s are now marked “Do Not Enter.” Your kids grow up and doors like “Bike Riding 101” and “Family Road Trip” quietly click shut. You lose a friend or a family member and the doors to those relationships close for good. It can all be a bit depressing if you dwell on it too much.
Not only that, but there’s a certain irony to the whole situation. That’s because society has developed a process called “Retirement” whereby we go through life compiling a long Bucket List of things that we want to do only to arrive at “Retirement Age” to realize that Time has closed many of the doors that we’ll need to go through in order to do those things.
The good news is that there are ways to recognize this process for what it is and maximize your time and opportunities so you can live a life of few regrets. On Thursday of this week, I’ll publish Part 2 of this email with some practical ideas on how to do just that.
Have a great week!