This week, I offer a brief reflection. Sitting at JFK, drafting these words while Descript’s AI creates an overdub of my voice, I prepare for a sorrowful journey. I’m on my way back to the UK to bid farewell to my beloved Mother who passed last week.
My mother’s journey spanned a robust 92 years – a life well lived and genuinely cherished. Although departed her memories remain,
her words can still be heard and her sage advice resonates inside of me. However, her death has undoubtedly brought me face-to-face with the unyielding march of time, revealing how quickly the sands of our lives slip into the bottom bulb of existence.
Roman philosopher Seneca once said, ” It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.”
Unsurprisingly the coming days I will take time to pause and reflect on my own life, the time I’ve spent to date, and how I intend to utilize the time with which I’m still blessed.
Tim Urban in his timeless post The Tail End movingly depicted the limited time we have with our parents once we leave home. For me those times have passed and now I must reassess the valuable but unknown time that remains in my life.
The seventeenth-century preacher Jonathan Edwards in his sermon “The Preciousness of Time and the Importance of Redeeming It”
urged his congregation to be mindful of how they spent their time, to focus on their spiritual lives, and to strive to make their actions meaningful in the eyes of God, because once time has passed, it cannot be regained.
Regardless of faith or beliefs, this is indeed timeless wisdom and a reminder not to simply chase joy but seek purposeful endeavors. the time is always right, to do what is right.
Therefore It’s in these times of mournful reflection that one takes time to think more deeply about time.
Psychologist Philip Zimbardo proposed an Optimal Temporal Mix that blends a positive past view with a future-oriented life goal and a joyful present perspective. The mental agility to shift between these views is vital to success.
My friend and recent guest Don Smith would probably describe it as simply as living in a process of emergence.
For most of ‘ my process of emergence’ I pursued a career in advertising.
Although I worked with fantastically talented colleagues and clients it’s not a career that could be described as socially purposeful or meaningful. or counting for much more than building brands, trading attention that drives purchase intent to keep the wheels of our global consumer-driven economy running.
In the 10 years since a new CEO in McCann NYC decided to release me and my digital team from plying our trade, I’ve striven to deliver more value in the work I do, the network I’ve built, and the stories i share through the podcast I produce.
It’s in these stories I take comfort. They represent a constant weekly reminder that we have agency to positively impact those around us and the world we inhabit.
Each guest an exemplar of someone who has embraced their allotted time on this mortal coil. They all respect the power, scarcity, and significance of their ‘moments’, maintain their values and principles, and take the actions needed to effect positive change and build a better world.
They are ordinary people just living extraordinary lives. Their impact has made me reconsider the application of time. My past is set, but it’s encouraged a sharper focus on intentional future time investment.
And as I strive to live a more meaningful life, the words my mother learned as a 13 year old girl in war time Britain still resonate, as she quoted Shakespeare to me:
‘This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.’
Goodbye Mum. Rest In Peace.