Last Sunday morning, the sunshine felt like rain
The week before, they all seemed the same
With the help of God and true friends, I’ve come to realize
I still have two strong legs, and even wings to fly
So I, ain’t a-wastin time no more
‘Cause time goes by like hurricanes, and faster things
— Gregg L. Allman, Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More
The years fly by, and we begin to notice this at our own pace. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to shake us out of the fog of distraction, as it did for Gregg Allman when his brother Duane died in a motorcycle accident, prompting lyrics like those above. When someone is taken from us in the prime of life it shakes the survivors around that person to the core. At some point, if we’re lucky, we awaken to the reality of memento mori without being turned upside down by tragedy, and simply begin at last to live in earnest.
The whole point of remembering that we all must die is to live now, while there’s still time. It’s easier said than done, as life piles on the busy. Life will never be perfectly aligned to do everything we possibly could do in our lifetime, but if we focus on essential things we might feel we’ve done enough. A lifetime is always a faster thing than we care to believe, so a bit of structure and purpose go a long way towards feeling we did what we could in the time we have.
The trick is to structure is to put everything in it’s season. Bill Perkins called this time buckets in his book Die With Zero. Using time buckets, we may prioritize what is most essential now, and what can (and cannot) be deferred to later. For example, I may never hike the Appalachian Trail as I thought I might at 20, but I can still chip away at other things that require the fitness and time I have available now for other worthy life goals. But how do you determine what is essential when if you don’t make the time to make the list and assign it to its proper time? We are what we prioritize. Use this time bucket to map out all the rest.
Since I began writing this post we’ve seen a few famous people pass away, and we’ve all collectively gained another week of experience in our lifetime. Those sands keep pouring out of the hourglass, whether we’re ready for it or not. Our best chance at a full lifetime is to wrestle with our days one at a time, but with the structure of an overriding purpose and plan for how to use each season. Because time goes by like hurricanes, and faster things.