I mentioned a couple of months ago, that someone I’d grown quite close to passed away very suddenly. Well, some of her final words were “Don’t take people for granted, appreciate them every day”. It’s a simple message, something we all know but don’t really grasp until it’s too late. Those words have stuck with me ever since and they hover, flitting about my wits like butterflies. One of my fears is coping with losing a parent – not that I couldn’t live without them – just that it would be so much more difficult to do so.
I often think that one of the biggest illusions on earth is our concept of time because we're fooled into thinking we have so much of it, when we really don't. We’re so caught up in every day trivialities that we are not mindful of the expiration date on our lives and the lives of our loved ones.
To put things into perspective, let’s assume that each person lives an average of 65 years, give or take a few. Now you weren’t born with your Mom and Dad – they had entire lives before you came along – so let’s assume that they had you at an average age of 22. That means that you only really know them for 43 years of their lives. But that’s just it, you know them for those 43 years – you don’t necessarily spend every waking moment with them in that time.Click on image for a better view
And from those 43 years, roughly a third of our time is spent sleeping which is approximately 14 years; and another third is spent either going to school, university or work, which incidentally adds up to another 14 years. Then there’s all that time you spend cruising the highway in peak hour traffic, running errands that are essential for daily living and engaging in activities that require you to be alone, like pee-ing and bathing…and at an average of 3 hours a day it all adds up to 6 years of your life dedicated to maintenance. Then there are other family members and friends that require your attention, some daily, others less frequently and at 10 hours a week, you’re looking at 3 solid years spent on sustaining relationships.
That leaves you with a grand total of 6 precious years of quality time with your parents, which (assuming that you’re living with them) is only around 7 weeks a year. And with the natural procession of life, you’ll probably decide to get married and move out. So if you get married at the average age of 25, the time you would have spent with your parents for the remaining 18 years of their lives, decreases substantially. At this point, you would have only spent a little over 3 years with them and assuming that you’ll get to see them for 5 hours a week when you’re married; those other 3 years meant for quality time will be reduced to almost 28 weeks, or a mere 6.5 months.
So there you have it folks. Even if you’re one of the extremely fortunate few that will get to see your parents alive for 43 years, only around 4 of those years will be dedicated to quality time with them. And that’s not counting all the time wasted on silly arguments, petty family feuds, the days or weeks or months spent not talking to each other; or those occasions you’re out of the country or working over-time etc.Can you wrap your mind around less than 4 years at the most?! Make it count.