“Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” ~Robert Frost~
We always think there will be another tomorrow and that’s when procrastination sets in.
I was sixteen years old when my grandfather died. At sixteen, despite having lost a number of loved ones already, I was still under that youthful spell of ego and immortality. There was always time for everything. Why rush? Why do anything today that you can put off til tomorrow?
I never told him that I loved him. It wasn’t part of our Asian culture to be verbally expressive with our emotions. Even though many times during those happy moments that now live on like glittering stars in the dark recesses of my spirit, I wanted to blurt out those simple three words, culture and tradition became cement walls at the back of my throat.
Not saying those words to my grandfather before he passed has become a torturous regret that I’ve come to accept will remain buried in my heart until I too become just a memory to this world. Over the years, other lessons along with my grandfather’s memory have shaped me into someone who lives with intense passion and somewhat of reckless abandonment when it comes to seizing the day, carpe diem. I have become more afraid of what will happen if I don’t say or do something rather than if I do.
No matter what religion you have faith in, or don’t, there is one thing we all have in common for certain- we were never promised any length of time on this earth. Most of us live day to day with some kind of foolish belief that we’ll have at least a good 60 years or so to do whatever we want. But this just isn’t true. Anything can happen to any of us at any time.
Knowing that we could very well die tomorrow, or next month, next year, would we live differently than we do now? I ask this question of myself often lately, not to become obsessed with mortality but to ensure that whatever duration of life I have is time that is well spent. I would not wish the aching pain of regret that I carry with me on my worst enemy. And I do not wish to repeat the same mistakes. So I live each day trying to find that fine balance between knowing that I should seize every opportunity to love, to embark on a journey whereby every step is to be savored like fine wine and to extract every bit of happiness and passion that I can out of life without going to the extremes of selfishness and irresponsibility.
Why should I not tell someone I love them? For fear of rejection or laughter? Why should I not dare to dream as big and glorious as my mind can conceive? Would it be better to settle for the safety of an average and mundane life? Why should I not attempt to learn every Asian language in existence? Should I succumb to those who think I cannot? Why should I not begin writing a dozen different books? So what if all of them end up collecting dust on my private shelf? In the off chance that I finish one and it turns into a bestseller, would this not be reason enough to start? Why have I put off writing the thank-you note to my thoughtful friend? Why would I put off treating myself well?
It can and will be too late to profess your love, to tackle that activity you’ve wanted to do, to get the job you’ve dreamed of, to chase your passion, to live an extraordinary life. Let us not allow procrastination in any form to be the driver of our journey; that seat should be reserved for you and you only.