As with so many of the things that inspire me to start thinking around a topic, something popped up in my social feeds. In this case it was about how, as we live life, we are essentially standing in line. Standing in line for what? The person who presented this represented everyone as standing in line for entrance to heaven. The reality is that, depending on your belief system, it really is standing in line to die… and begin whatever adventure comes next. But there were some very relevant and valuable observations made about standing in that line and I wanted to expand on them a bit.
We are all in the line whether we recognize it or not. The day you are born you take your place in line. It is an unfortunate reality that the line is unavoidable. You don’t get a choice. Once you are born you will die at some point. People are born every minute and people die every minute. When you are born, you lay in line… until you crawl along with the line… and then walk… and then, maybe one day, get pushed through the line in your wheelchair by the person behind you. The point is: You can’t get out of the line. Once you’re born, you’re in line. As much as we’d like to, we can’t move to the back of the line and we can’t simply step out of line.
Interestingly, circumstance may move people around you. Depending on how existential you want to be as you think about this, accidents may move people who are behind you in line somewhere in front of you in line. Being late leaving your house one morning might mean you miss that fatal accident in the worst intersection you drive through every day. Instead of you being killed in that accident, someone else dies. In the line of life, they were 112 places behind you and then, due to pure circumstance, they’re suddenly – and unexpectedly – 15,687 places ahead of you. The numbers don’t matter as much as the concept.
So, there you are in a line you can never get out of and where you have no control over your place. This is a line where no one ever wants to butt ahead of you and those in the front of the line are moving just as slow as they possibly can. The question is: what should you be doing while you spend this time in line? In today’s world, I can just picture a million people in line, no one talking to anyone, but everyone looking down at the phone in their hand. Wouldn’t that be a terrible shame? But isn’t it close to reality? For goodness sake, while you stand in this unavoidable line, understand that movement through it equals the passing of your allotted life span. Don’t spend it looking down at a phone. Spend it in some better ways.
Throughout our lives we get told the things we ought to do and a lot of the time we do, but other times it’s not as easy. If you’re having a bad day and someone pisses you off, being forgiving or trying to stay positive gets difficult. The thing is, no matter what your day is like… good, bad, neutral… no matter how many people piss you off, no matter how difficult work is or how much your significant other aggravates you… ALL OF IT is temporary. You’re in line. The line isn’t stopping. Your time in that line can be as pleasant or as awful as YOU make it. It all depends on how you spend that time. So don’t waste it.
Remember that you’re in that line but don’t let it make you morbid. Value the time. Leverage the time. Maximize the beauty of the time. Prioritize the things and people that make up your life (your time in that line). Prioritize work, home, family, hobbies, vacations, adventures and more. Don’t let the amount of time you spend at work (while in line) so severely outweigh your time at home that you start wanting the line to move faster. And isn’t that what we’re doing when we wish the clock would move faster? The passage of time equals movement in line. If what you’re doing makes you wish the time would go by faster STOP DOING IT. Find something else to do that you enjoy more. Change your profession if you must. Just don’t put yourself in a position where you start wanting that line to move a bit quicker. I don’t know about all of you reading this, but I want that line to move as slow as possible.
While you’re in that line make sure those who matter to you know what you offer; what your gifts are; what your talents are and how you most enjoy using them. Demonstrate your talents and gifts and never be ashamed of doing so. Let those around you know what a difference you can make… and make it in as big a way as you can.
We (hopefully) never know the people around us in line. That line is filled with people from every location, race and culture on the planet. For all we know, that line includes alien species from different planets. My point is that you can’t just open a conversation with the person in front of you or behind you in line. However, what you can do is look around at the people who are in your life; consider this – if they ARE next to you in that line, have you done anything to make their time in the line better? Have you made them feel appreciated? Done anything to make them feel good about themselves? Expressed any appreciation for any positive impact they have in your day? After all, if they have, they’re making your time in line better. Don’t take it for granted.
Something anyone who has stood in line knows is that you never want any fights or disagreements in the line. That doesn’t make being in line any better; it makes it more aggravating and tedious. We NEVER want our time in line to be aggravating or tedious. We want to enjoy it and maximize how it’s spent. So try to avoid fights and disagreements in your life. Some of them are relatively trivial… about how something gets done at work or how a project is approached. Whatever. If it doesn’t impact the quality of your life, then it’s worth minimal time. Prioritize (remember?). Minimize the aggravations; maximize the positive impacts.
And as we get closer and closer to the front of the line, whether we’re aware of it or not, we ought to be doing our best to make sure we’ve communicated how we feel to those who matter in our lives. Since none of us knows if we’ll reach the front of the line tomorrow, next week, ten years from now or later today, it is imperative that you let those around you know how you feel. I’m NOT saying you should get up from your desk and go tell your boss he’s a jerk (if that’s how you feel). What I AM saying is that you should make sure your significant other, your children, friends and others who matter most to you KNOW that they matter to you. Communicate it clearly and often.
Finally, the absolute last thought you want to have when you’re standing at the head of the line is, “I wish I had…” That’s why people make bucket lists. They want to make sure there are things they do before they leave this plain of existence. Why wait? Start doing them. Prioritize. Don’t have regrets.
When you get to the front of the line, if you’ve spent that time in line the right way, you can look back at all the other people in line behind you and think, “Wow. I hope every one of them is enjoying their time in line as much as I did. I hope they accomplish as much, love as much, experience as much peace and pleasure as I did. My time in line has been full, productive and prosperous not to mention adventurous and fun. Yeah… it’s been a full life in line.” If you can think like that, you can move into whatever comes next with peace and motivation.