How long is a lifetime? A glance at an actuarial table will tell you something about average life expectancy, but no guarantees there. My Grandmother and Great-Grandmother lived well into their eighties; my first two children never saw a birthday. But still everyone of them lived a lifetime: their lifetime.
Perhaps with no hard and fast rules about the quantity of time, it becomes the quality of whatever time we do get that draws our attention. Do we squander our time wishing things were different, wallowing in what might have been, or insulating ourselves from every possible disappointment?
When I think about the people whom I admire most, the same traits (though in very different combinations and packages) appear again and again: curiosity, humor, bravery, kindness, compassion. In short, an almost overwhelming engagement in the life they are leading. The people who inspire me are leading lives, not enduring them. And lest you assume that this cadre of exceptional people are free from cares, know this: to a man, they carry a cross under which most would collapse.
So when I want more time, or convenience, or less pain, I move them very much to the front of my mind. Because I have found that a fuller, deeper engagement in the here and now, in the what’s-right-in-front-of-me, is a potent antidote to the if onlys.