You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone

04/11/2019
Posted in Blog
04/11/2019 Mduduzi Luthuli

Life is short, as everyone knows.

When I was a kid, I used to wonder about this. Is life short, or are we really complaining about its finiteness? Would we be just as likely to feel life was short if we lived 10 times as long?

Since there didn’t seem any way to answer this question, I stopped wondering about it. Then I had kids. That gave me a way to answer the question, and the answer is that life is short.

Having kids showed me how to convert a continuous quantity, time, into discrete quantities. You only get 52 weekends with your 2-year-old. If Christmas-as-magic lasts from say ages 3 to 10, you only get to watch your child experience it 8 times.

While it’s impossible to say what is a lot or a little of a continuous quantity like time, 8 is not a lot of something. If you had a handful of 8 peanuts, or a shelf of 8 books to choose from, the quantity would definitely seem limited, no matter what your lifespan was.

If life is short, we should expect its shortness to take us by surprise. And that is just what tends to happen. You take things for granted, and then they’re gone.

You think you can always write that book, or climb that mountain, or whatever, and then you realise the window has closed. The saddest windows close when other people die.

Their lives are short too.

After my mother died, I wished I’d spent more time with her. I lived as if she’d always be there. And in her typical quiet way she encouraged that illusion. But an illusion it was. I think a lot of people make the same mistake I did.

Life is short, does everyone know?

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Any fool can know. The point is to understand - Albert Einstein