3 min read

Enjoying the small things again (No, Really):

You only live once... Yes we know.

Now I'm not going to shove the quote "treat every day like it's your last" into your eye but hear me out. I think this post can be important and hopefully this 2 minutes read will make your day.

The above quote has been beaten to death, brought back alive, and beaten to death again and we've really become insensitive to the idea it tries to convey.

At least that's me.

There's the ideal world where we can live every day as if it's our last, focusing on doing the things that matter the most. Then there's also the real world where we must be future-oriented, somewhat goal-oriented, and delay our gratification so we can survive (or dare I say...thrive) in this capitalistic world where those good at instrumentalizing everything wins.

But reading this one book I will mention below really brought the idea back to life in a more real and tangible manner.

Our Finitude

We usually measure life in years. So without doing the math, how many weeks do you think an average human has in their lifetime? Don't cheat, give me a quick instinctive guess.

Instinctively you would probably guess that it is in the tens of thousands. Maybe around 30k, 50k? It does feel that way. Weeks passed by without us noticing.

But for a ballpark figure, an 80-year-old person would have lived for around 4,000 weeks only.

That is the basis for the name of the book Four Thousand Weeks which is also the inspiration for this short post.

So putting it that way we have a lot less time than we think. If you're around 20 then you've already lived 1,000 weeks and only got around 3,000 left.

This is the finitude of life. As Sam Harris points out, the shortness of life meant that our life is inevitably full of things we do for the last time, without us knowing.

The last time you run around the park; the last time you hug your grandma; the last time you say 'I Love You' to your parents; the last time you have a late-night talk with your best friend.

What is ironic is that during many of these 'last times' we won't know that they're the last time. You know it's the last time you'll see someone when you lay beside their deathbed, but the same might not be true if you see someone for the last time expecting to see them again tomorrow when that tomorrow never comes.

There will be the last time you take that route to school; the last time when you play that video game; the last time you wore that jacket before you lost it.

The way that time is structured means that we only ever have the present moment. The past only exists in our memory. The future only exists when it becomes the present moment. You often have no way to tell whether you are doing something for the last time. Think back to many last times you've had where you thought there would've been a next.

As I said, we live in a future-oriented society where being able to instrumentalize things including your time will mean a reward from society. This naturally pushes us to treat our time as an instrument for future rewards, blinding us from the many possible 'last times' we encounter in our day-to-day life.

Time, not as an instrument

I remember reading this part of the book on a bus and thinking to myself if that could be the last time I take that specific bus route going home.

That was a few weeks before I left home for a new city.

I don't remember if that turned out to be the last time I took that bus. But I do remember how the rain dropped on the bus window that day, and how the Hong Kong skyline looked that evening as I took out my earphones and tried to enjoy that moment as it is, as if it was the last time.

Hope you're having a good weekend x