Pandemics are no fun. Politics around pandemics are no fun. Border closures are no fun. I’d hazard to guess that I haven’t been having that much fun since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the WHO on March 11th of this year.
I lost my hair.
After I became so ill in January, I started to experience substantial hair loss.
Turns out that hair loss is an unexpected outcome of COVID-19 and perhaps I was infected back then. Or perhaps the stress of being put into a very dynamic situation with regards to where we would be living took its toll.
Thankfully my hair seems to be rebounding. It was quite a shock to see so much hair loss every time I took a shower over the past six months.
Life hasn’t been as enjoyable since all of this started. Partly due to the pandemic and largely due to the loss of control with all of the government restrictions.
A friend passed this note of encouragement along. With everything that passes my way, hundreds of emails each day, dozens of websites scanned each day, hundreds of social media posts, tweets, YouTube videos, well, you get the idea. Most of that information flows quickly in and out.
This one caused me to pause. It hit home. And it caused me to think more deeply than I normally do when I read emails.
Here it is in its entirety.
Seneca once wrote:
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.
This is a profound statement and I would encourage you to read it again. The more I read it, the more I am inspired by it.
These phrases stick out the most to me:
“It is not that we have a short time to live… but that we waste a lot of it…”
“Life is long enough for the highest achievements if it were all well invested…”
“It is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity…”
“We are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it…”
I should, perhaps, end this article right now—with Seneca’s own words—rather than thinking I can improve upon them.
But maybe, for just a few short sentences, I will comment.
You (the person reading these words right now) were designed to achieve great things! You are unique in your being, your substance, your abilities, and your relationships. And there is no one else on the face of the earth who can live your life and accomplish your good.
Please, do not forget that.
There is no doubt that “success” and “achievement” are relative words and your highest achievement is different from someone else’s highest achievement. You may never lead thousands or cure cancer. But make no mistake:
There is a good that you are designed to bring into this world. And there are people in your life that you can serve and love better than anyone else.
Your highest achievement will be different than mine, but we both have one. And “life is long enough for us to achieve it.”
Unless, as Seneca wrote, “Our lives are wasted in needless luxury and spent on no good activity.”
It is up to us to decide, every day, to focus our energies on those things worthy of the one life we have been given.
Discard the inessential. Remove the distractions. Reject worthless activity.
Your life is too short… to waste accumulating material possessions.
Your life is too short… to be offended all the time.
Your life is too short… to chase accolades.
Your life is too short… to compare it to others.
Your life is too short… to waste watching 6 hours of television/day.
Your life is too short… to pursue riches.
Your life is too short… to not believe in yourself.
Your life is too short… to not forgive.
Your life is too short… to not speak your mind.
Your life is too short… to worry about the future.
Your life is too short… to regret the past.
Your life is too short… to live in fear.
Your life is too short… to be unhappy.
Your life is too short… to waste time on the trivial.
Your life is too short… to live like everyone else.
Your life is too short… to not be true to yourself.
And life is too short to wait.