Time As A River

September 7, 2011
Estimated reading time:
2 minutes
Time is like a river that will take you forward into encounters with reality that will require you to make decisions. You can't stop the movement down this river, and you can't avoid the encounters. You can only approach these encounters in the best way possible.

- Ray Dalio, Principles

I wrote about this a little recently, but the fact that I've finally finished university and will soon be starting a job has really impacted me mentally. I'm suddenly viscerally aware of the fact that, one day, I will die. My time on earth is limited, and no-one can stop that. There is nothing I can do to prevent it - I can only try to make the most of my time here.

I've always been a fan of video games. I'm a bit of a perfectionist. When I was about 9 years old, I wanted to catch 150 pokémon on my Gameboy, which I did. When I was 14 or 15, I wanted to complete GTA 3 100%, doing all the side missions and all the hidden packages. I did it. When I was 17 I played The Godfather on PS2, and I played it probably 3 or 4 times through to make sure I did all the missions in the "right" order, the way they were intended to be done so I could get the most XP and money and make the game as easy as possible. I did it. Each time, I was left thinking, OK, now what? Then I'd play the game through again, doing things differently, each time trying something slightly different.

Unfortunately, life isn't like that. Time is like a river. My four years at university were the best of my life (so far), but now they're done. There's no second playthrough. No saving at a certain point and resetting if things don't go your way.But the problem isn't necessarily the fact that I will die one day. The worry is that I'll die, and my children and grandchildren will die, and a hundred years later, no-one will give a shit. Neil Strauss touched on this in his new book. He was interviewing Chris Rock, who said this:

The weirdest thing about being successful is that you are kind of ready to die. Especially now that I've got kids. I mean, I want to live. Don't get me wrong. But I'm not in fear of dying. I've made my mark. Death is the enemy of my family - of my wife and my daughters.

Maybe that's the aim. To make your mark. Or at least to strive for it, lest you be one of those timid souls who knows neither victory nor defeat.

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