I Am Not a Buddhist, Yet These Are the Wisest Words I Have Ever Heard
From the time my dad turned 50, he used to tell me and my two brothers, “Time goes by too fast.”
None of us paid the comment much attention back then, as we were all in our twenties and building our personal and professional lives. We could neither attend to “getting old” nor “older,” and yet my father repeated this over the years like a mantra. He didn’t preach it at all, but when we had serious conversations that statement was invariably in the mix.
My father is dead now. He passed away at 70 of a liver disease. He only drank maybe three glasses of cheap wine a year on the occasional Jewish holiday. He did not drink otherwise, nor did he do any illicit drugs.
He did, though, pop the Tylenol when he suffered from headaches. He also, with my middle brother, escaped debris during September 11 when he worked on Wall Street.
He went to his grave blaming the ash and toxins in the air from that tragedy for his condition.
Regardless of underlying cause, he was 70 years old.
He was only 70 years old.
And he was no longer here.
I will be 56 in less than 24 hours. My wife is older. Last week, another friend passed. He had been in hospice and my wife and I visited him two days before he had taken his final breath. I spoke on the phone with a mutual friend who had just turned 70 and we could not believe where the years went.
My father was right all along.
I am doing what I can to stay healthy. I dropped a bunch of weight, and my turn to eating vegan for health reasons nearly a decade ago enabled me to stop taking my high blood pressure and cholesterol medications. (Though it has worked wonders for me, I am not convinced veganism is an appropriate lifestyle choice for everyone.)
As a quick digression: “Rocky Balboa,” the sixth film in the series, is presently airing on my Direct TV as I write these words. What do I hear Rocky tell Paulie?
“Time goes by too fast.”
Rocky was referring to his late wife, Adrian.
Continuing the digression for another moment, can you believe it’s been nearly 43 years since the first “Star Wars” film was released? I was 13 years old.
My life is, apparently, defined by personal and professional accomplishments, and movies.
Maybe that’ll change as I continue to grow up
Marriage, passings and other milestones later … now, like my father before me, I cannot figure where the years have gone. As I am childless, I strive to leave a legacy with my work. Despite my age, I work daily like I’m beginning a new career, as opposed to winding down.
I want my wife, my mom and my brothers to be sure that I’m doing what I can to have our family name leave a mark. I want my niece and nephews to be proud of their “crazy Uncle Joel.”
Few people look back and think, “If only I knew this when I was much younger, I would have lived my life differently.” Some have been responsible all along, those who have saved their money, for example, as opposed to freely spending with no regard as to a future. To specifics, I’d need to peruse statistics but I doubt that money-smart group represents the majority.
Do what you can now — today — to ensure a regret-free future.
As I draw this short piece to a close, understand that many of those older among us have for many years been sharing their wisdom. Frequently, that wisdom has fallen on deaf ears.
So now it’s my turn.
The message of this meditation is: Time does go by too fast. Life really is short.
And Buddha was right.
Thank you for reading.
(Disclaimer: As I have no proof Buddha is truly responsible for the quote in the above meme, consider this post as a heartfelt message.)
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