Your Time is Now.

About 3 months ago, a man I knew of, with no history of health problems, suddenly passed away in his sleep one night.

According to the postmortem autopsy, he had major unknown heart problems and would have needed a heart transplant had he survived the night. I did not know the man very well, but the biggest thing that stood out to me was his age…

32.

That is a mere 4 years older than I am right now.

What this reminded me of is that I am not guaranteed another day or another year. I could just as well pass away unexpectedly in the night as this man did. There’s nothing in the nature of the world that ensures I will live to be a certain age.

One Tragedy After Another

This incident brought up memory of another person I knew several years ago. She was out for her evening jog one day, when from out of nowhere a drunk driver lost control, jumped the curb, and slammed right into her. She was killed instantly.

She was 26.

Now listen: this could happen to any of us.

Think of it… you and I have everyday routines that we do. We drive our cars. We harness electricity. We walk in streets.

And yet, it is possible that during any of these activities, you may die. In fact, it is not totally uncommon. I’m willing to bet most of you who are reading this know someone who has died unexpectedly in the course of normal every day life, or died from some tragic health problem.

These things belie the illusion that you have more time than you do.

Listen up

Let me tell you something: You do not have any more time. The only time you have is right now.

The only time I have is right now… Part of the reason why I am going to Colombia is not because I already have my passive income streams lined up. It’s not because I do have money rolling out of my pants. It’s not because I have a “muse,” as Tim Ferris says.

It’s because what I have is my life, what I have is my time.

“Free Time”

Just yesterday I was working my way through another Pimsleur Spanish lesson, and the phrase “tiempo libre(Free time) came up… as in, “¿Qué haces en tu tiempo libre?“, What do you do in your free time?

Think about that question… Does it not imply that your time is not inherently free, that most of your life is, rather, unfree?

YES IT DOES… Otherwise, why would people use that phrase?!?!

The idea with the phrase “what do you do in your free time” is that, by default, I mostly have unfree time, that mostly I am (or should be) slaving away somewhere doing something that other people think I should be doing.

** Now, I am aware that, for much of the world, it is unfortunately the case that they spend a lot of their time securing the necessities of life: water, food, shelter. They have to do this every day in order to live. Here, I am not talking about securing necessities for your basic health. **

I am talking about the idea that your time is not yours. That somehow, someway, someone else owns your time, and gives you “free time” at certain times. This is slavery. It is utter slavery.

And I detest it.

Because the reality is, what if you are someone else’s slave for the entire time you are alive? When you are young, you are slave to your schoolmasters. They dictate your time. When you’re a little older, you become slave to your employers. They dictate your time… but then what if you die at 32?

What if you die at 32, when you’ve saved up a nice chunk of change, you drive a nice car, you bought a pretty little house… but it’s the result of following these merciless dictators? What if you never traveled? What if you resisted going out on adventures because you were afraid it would hurt your career? What if you resisted quitting your job because you wanted to keep up with your 401k, or please your employer, or please your parents?

What a foolish thing to do… spending your days indefinitely preparing to live.

Your Time Is Now

This is why I am so adamant about getting a departure date. You are not guaranteed another year of your life. You are not guaranteed another second. Later never comes. Someday never comes. All you have is right now.

So, if you have a dream of traveling to a certain place, go. For God’s sake, go.

Your time is now.




Published December 17, 2010

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  • http://www.theartofaudacity.com Lach

    This is powerful stuff Ryan. And you’re right. The time is now. It’s the only time we’ve got. Despite what I recently wrote about the tragedy of not living your life your own way; it’s not the threat of untimely death that motivates me. We each need to draw our own conclusions, but one of mine is that the world is not hostile or arbitrary. Though we might not always understand it or see the full picture (particularly of the lives of others), there is a reason for everything. Having faith in that is part of what enables me to live a full life; not just the fear of running out of time. Your article strikes a deep chord. Take responsibility for your life. Live it your way, and do it now. You’re becoming a much needed example of those powerful ideas. Bravo Ryan!

    • Ryan

      Thanks, Lach. You’re right… Whether the world is hostile or friendly is a fundamental attitude/conclusion that will heavily influence how you live your life. I know we’ve discussed it before, but even now I feel the need to chew on that thought some more and let it do its work. Cheers, mi amigo!

  • http://joelrunyon.com/two3 Joel

    Isn’t it funny how learning words in another language forces us to re-think how we phrase some things in english? The more I study other languages, the more it happens to me.

    Enjoy Colombia & the spanish lessons, but even more, enjoy right NOW.

    • http://www.theartofaudacity.com Lach

      Totally. It’s also interesting to see how the vocabulary of a language influences its cultural values and biases. If your only mode of thinking is in words; you’re stuck with the thoughts that have a dictionary definition.

    • Ryan

      Thanks Joel! The study of how and why we say the things we say is so enlightening. I’ve only scratched the surface.

  • http://www.1yearsabbatical.com Matt

    Wow! If this doesn’t stop you in your tracks and make you take a step back and really look deeply and meaningfully at your life I don’t know what will. I think each moment that you are not doing something that leaves you feeling excited and fulfilled you are dying. A big part of my push to travel abroad and experience something new and different is I know how fragile and short life really is. There are no guarantees that any other time than now will afford me the same opportunity to do this. I love that you set a date, got those tickets and are in route to have an amazing adventure.

    • Ryan

      I appreciate that Matt. Now is the time for all of us, and I’m glad you are getting ready to set sail! We’re both in for some great new experiences.

  • http://www.whereisjenny.com Jenny

    I completely agree with not waiting until your life is essentially over for life to begin. We’ve been taught to wait… wait so we can help corporations grow at the expense of our lives, our happiness, our health, and our families. When you realize that you could die before that “retirement” age ever comes and that there is on guarantee that you’ll even make it to next year, you start to get serious… you either get busy living, or you get busy dying. You make a choice. I choose to live life to the fullest everyday. I’m tired of waiting around for things to just happen to me… you gotta make them happen. And it ain’t easy.

    • Ryan

      That’s true, girl! It ain’t easy at all, once you decide to make something happen. We’ve got to swim against the tide… And the day is nearly here for the both of us! Banzai!

  • http://www.worldcurioustraveler.wordpress.com Mary R

    Dear Ryan,
    I always think the same things when I waver about a trip. It helps put into perspective that time is finite. Also, I know I have the time and means now today, but next month or next year, who knows?

    • Ryan

      Yep! Time is totally finite. That’s why your time is now, Mary… :)

  • http://www.overyonderlust.com Erica

    Picking a departure date is definitely important when it comes to realizing your dreams. There is nothing like clicking the flight button and picking your adventures for the next year (more or less) of your life, and nothing more satisfying than knowing you are doing something about it.

    Learning other languages is wonderful way to rethink the world around you. Certain colloquialisms just aren’t the same across all cultures and forces you to reexamine your surroundings. I am totally looking forward to learning more Spanish while on our trip – I hope that it is just as life changing for you (which apparently, this epiphany seems to be)!

    • Ryan

      Erica, I agree, learning new languages is really eye-opening and mind-expanding. It is a lot of work, but I really glad I decided to do it… And, update on the yellow fever shot: no symptoms to report! :)

      When and where are you headed on your trip?

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  • http://www.yearlyglot.com/ Randy

    Wow. Cool.

    Nothing that hasn’t been said 1000 other times, by 1000 other people, but it never stops being really cool to see someone figure this out… And moreso to see them share it with the world so well.

    • Ryan

      Thanks for the kind words, Randy!

  • http://www.novacationrequired.com The NVR Guys

    Great post Ryan. We couldn’t agree more. Once we realized that we were deferring our joy – waiting for retirement (you know, that thing our grandparents did) to really live our lives – well, we had no choice but to change it. As we travel and enjoy the “NVR” life we have created for ourselves, we often ask one another, “Can you waiting until we are 70 to do this?”

    And to your point… What happens if 70 never comes. What happens if “later” never comes. For many people, it won’t. That sounds depressing, but it really should sound motivating.

    • Ryan

      Thanks for the comments… It is a really good though “what if 70 never comes”, and what if that retirement everybody plans on never comes? I think these thoughts require a much more thoughtful approach to life, and especially a consideration of whether your time is your own or someone else’s.

  • http://www.hecktictravels.com Dalene

    It’s sad that it takes significant occurrences (death) to make us realize such important things sometimes. This is my story exactly – my sister died at the age of 33 from something totally freak and unexpected. 6 months later, my husband and I made the decision to sell everything and travel. We had always talked about it, but that definitely gave us the final push.

    Would we have ever done it without such a loss? Hard to say, but probably not.

    That’s why your post and this message is so important. Thanks for sharing. =)

    • Ryan

      Hey Dalene! So sorry to hear about your sister… Yet it sounds like it was a springboard for a life change for you.

      Here’s hoping that you and your husband find life to the full. :)

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  • http://languagemusings.com Tristan

    It’s taken me a while to get to this great post, Ryan.  A very true message – I think it’s easy to get caught up the details of the daily grind and forget to live ‘in the now’.  I’m a bit of a planner, so living in the moment is something I’m not so good and, but I’m getting better.  Great post and nice reminder =)

    • http://ryangoesabroad.com Ryan

      Thanks, Tristan. I really think that the ‘deferred life plan’ approach has really taken its toll on our livelihood. Here’s to more adventures and less deferral!

      • http://languagemusings.com Tristan

        I’ll salud to that ;-)

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