What is really important

I’m not a person of newspapers. During my morning coffee I quickly go over the headlines (one should be updated), the sports section (there lies my interest) and the financial section (this is my profession), in this specific order. In case my wife is already reading the cover page I’ll gladly start with the sport section. The other parts of the newspaper I don’t even open. I assume that by doing that I miss much of the wisdom of the journalists and here is a good example. Last week I came across a small article written by Yair Lapid, (a much appreciated Israeli journalist) where he talks about his plans for next year (we are now celebrating the new Jewish year).

It happens to me at least once a month. I’m standing somewhere and a stranger approaches me and says that he wants to talk with me. “Mr. Lapid,” he would say politely, “it will only take few moments.” It takes longer, since he wants to tell me a story. Sometimes it is interesting, sometimes it isn’t, but it always ends with the same sentence:
“When I’ll retire,” they say, “I’ll write a book about it.”
“No, you won’t,” I say, “and if you will, it won’t be good.”

I know that such an answer doesn’t contribute to my reputation as a polite person, but this is the truth. Writing, like other arts, is a way of life, a technique, and a tool that you need to improve over years, carefully and patiently.  I hope nobody thinks he can suddenly become a classical pianist at the age of 65, or a great sculptor. When I explain this to them I can see their disappointment and sometimes even their anger. This was something they told themselves throughout their whole lives. When they’ll finish being insurance agents or Yoga teachers, then they’ll go for the ‘real thing’, fulfilling their dream.

The big question is – why don’t they do it now? I understand that everyone needs to make a living, but if they dream about writing, let them spent their nights writing, let them walk around with red eyes during the days. Let them skip family dinner with aunty Lili, take some paper pads or laptop to vacations and keep a small tape recorder in their car so they can throw in some good ideas. Let them do what’s important and not do what is happening.

It reminds me of those senior executives that retire from their jobs and declare that they have decided to “devote time to the family now.” It always happens when they are fifty plus, their kids are married, their wives are long impatient, and their grandkids don’t really remember their names. The family, just so happened, didn’t think of itself as an emergency plan for when you might get bored. The family just went on.

So this is my decision for next year. To do what is really good for me. Not to get carried away in daily stuff, not to schedule a meeting with somebody only because he called, and not to be ashamed to say “I don’t have the time” when I really don’t have it.

My time – and in the 21th century time is of essence – needs to be devoted to what is really important. It won’t wait for next year.

(Yair Lapid, September 19, 2008)

We always live for tomorrow and believe that tomorrow will be much better. We can’t wait to graduate from high school, to be adults and go to college. When we are in college we wait to find a good job but when we are working we dream about retirement so that we could fulfill our dreams. As singles we look to be married; then we marry (the happiest day of our life…) and then, guess what, you want to divorce and we seriously believe that the next marriage will be great. And then… we die. And all our life is reflected in the small hyphen between the years that appear on our tombstone. Yes, the small hyphen between the years (1940 - 2022) is the whole summary of our lives.
So enjoy what “is” and not only what “will be”…. fulfill your dreams now…

Fireworks (14)
Happy new Jewish year
Shuka, Thursday, October 2, 2008

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