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On the Shortness of Life

Last weekend I was reminded two times that life is not forever. That it will end some day and no one knows about that day or hour.

First, I discovered that a dead cat is lying in my backyard. It was hidden under a hedge so I haven’t found out this (I rarely go there) until my neighbour complained about the smell. It was a pretty nasty sight as it must had been lying there for a few days. I called the Bureau of Sanitation and they sent someone to clean it up. I don’t know whose cat it was or why it died.

Second, I played football (soccer) with my friend and some other people that he knows. I rarely play football, but since I was invited to the match, I went. It was the day of World Cup final (Netherlands vs. Spain) so we intended to watch the game on TV after our own match.

Our game was good and fun. However, I am out of shape, so I got tired pretty fast and played as a goalkeeper for the second half. After the match we watched World Cup final on TV and Spain became the new world champion. It was a nice event, the whole evening.

However, later when I got home and stepped out of my car, I got abnormal heart rhythm. I am no doctor, but I think it was atrial fibrillation. I had similar experiences a few times in my life, even as a teenager. Every time it went away after a few minutes. I believe this time I got this episode of abnormal heart rhythm because I stretched too much at the football match. I should do regular physical activity every day, not doing nothing for two weeks and then stretch like that.

The interesting part is that while I was having abnormal heart rhythm I saw a shooting star (I was sitting outside, on my doorsteps, and waiting for my heart to go back to normal rhythm). It was inevitable that after seeing that meteor that lasted only a second or even less, before it burned out, while at the same time having this medical situation, I started thinking about life and death.

For a long time I have been behaving like I will live forever. I’ve been procrastinating on things that I want to do as if I have all the time in the world to do them later. I had big plans for my future, but that was it – it was for the future. I shouldn’t even say I had plans. A plan implies that you have a concrete goal and a list of actions that will lead you there, which I never had.

Procrastination can be an expression of fear of change – whether fear of failure or fear of success as well. We may dream of change, but at the same time fear it, and therefore avoid it. That was my case for most of my life. As long as I was very young I had been successfully deluding myself that I really do want change but the time is not right yet – I have to learn more, before I can change my life.

Well, I am not very young any more. I am not old yet, but I can’t delude myself anymore that postponing changes into the future will EVER work. The only time that change can happen is now. We cannot change in the future. If we wait too long, we may never change. We may die before we change.

So, the questions are, do I really want change and if so, am I going to start it now? In fact, this is only one single question.