Barefoot Fitness

This Too Shall Pass

This Too Shall Pass

28,251 Days

There are 28,251 days in the average human lifespan. On my shelf right now, I have a notebook with a piece of paper in it. The paper has a big square divided into tiny little blocks. It's 52 blocks wide and 80 blocks tall. At the top left corner my birthday is written. On the bottom right is the same date, eighty years later. Every week I mark off a block. I talked about this whole concept in depth in my last post.

Those 28,251 days that we each get? I've already used up about a third of them. That’s 9,000 days, with no guarantee that I'll even get that many more.

Every once in a while I enjoy talking to old people and getting them to tell stories. Some day, granted we don't kill ourselves off somehow along the way, we're all going to be in their place. They all say that life flew right by.

Their most vivid memories are the day they met their wife or husband, the first thing their kid said and the time when he was sixteen and drove the car into the living room. They remember their own childhood and the stories of the relationships, friendships, laughter and sadness they've had. The highs and the lows.

Ever ask someone what they regret the most? It usually has something to do with what they've left undone. These conversations help boil down what really matters in life. One's mind, one's body, and one's relationships. The size of your cubicle? How new your car is? Being promoted to junior executive assistant vice president? Doesn't matter.

In his book, Stumbling on Happiness, Harvard Psychologist Daniel Gilbert talks about studies done on regrets, and the way we perceive our happiness with life. A study was conducted asking people what they predicted they would regret the most in life. Roughly 90% of people predicted that they would most regret failures which resulted from taking action on something when they could have simply done nothing. We fear failure and pain, and naturally think that our greatest regrets will be the actions that bring those things upon us. As it turns out, 90% of these people are wrong.

Further studies reveal that what the vast majority of people actually regret are their inactions throughout life; not pain or failures. Taking a chance and having drawn a poor hand of cards is seldom more than a lesson learned and a story to be told. It is the chances left untaken, the beautiful person left un-approached, the questions left unasked, words left unsaid and all the things left undone that that will eventually keep you awake at night.

Nothing in life is permanent, yet we all spend our days attached to things that are going to go away. Our clinging to non-permanent things causes a good deal of the suffering we bring upon ourselves.

The Spartans had a word, katalepsis. It translates loosely into ‘possession’ and referred to the derangement of the senses that comes when terror or anger usurps dominion of the mind. Hate, anger, desire and all of your material belongings that you can't let go of possess you and control you.

Buddhist philosophy contains something known as “The Five Remembrances.” The fourth and fifth are: All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them. My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

Number four relates well to the avoidance of this state of katalepsis; of being possessed. Everything that I have and everyone that I know is going to change, fall apart, and eventually go away.

Another way of looking at this would be to take the perspective of the Stoic: The ability to accept the things one cannot change. This all means that when something goes away; a relationship ends, a joyful trip comes to a close, or my Ipod winds up in the bottom of the ocean; I accept these things and move on without clinging and causing myself needless pain.

This does not mean that one should limit one's exposure to life. The value of the great things in life like love, joy and pleasure is not diminished by the fact that they are not permanent. If anything, it increases their importance. They should be cherished and fully experienced whenever possible, and when they end, one should be able to accept it and move on.

The same applies for the opposite end of the spectrum. Fear, pain and misery all play an important role in our lives, and without understanding their depths, one can never fully appreciate their absence or the heights of positive emotions. These, too will end with time and should be understood and experienced, then allowed to pass just as water flows past a rock.

I may never make it to 28,251. Each day and each of those moments will float by regardless of my use of them and be locked in time forever.

Every second we are creating the story of our lives. This pertains to the fifth remembrance. What motivates you? Any person has a subconscious drive, not necessarily a concrete concept, but something running through their mind that dictates the majority of their thought processes. Another way to look at this would be to ask what you think about all day. “As a man thinketh, so shall he be.” The thoughts in your mind dictate your actions, and determine who you are.

There is one thing that I really fear, that is always creeping in the back of my mind. More than anything, I fear the prospect of wasting my life. I hate wasted moments. Constantly in my mind is the thought that I am going to die some day. In everything you do, in every moment, is one chance to be perfect. Once chance to do it right and have no regrets. Pain will pass, misery will pass; awkwardness, fear, shyness, intimidation and anything else that could stop you or make you hesitate will pass. What will remain is how you acted. That will never go away.

This applies to even the simplest things. I tell myself this all the time in the weight room. Yesterday I was exhausted at the end of the day, but I had to work out. I could have sat there and made excuses and rationalized a reason to skip it. Instead, I carried myself to the gym. On the last set of front squats, I wanted to fall over and never touch the bar again. It was my one chance to do it right, and I forgot the pain and gave up everything but the focus on moving with strict technique and grinding out the reps.

I will be able to stand on that moment, and reap the benefits of those few seconds of pain that, now, I barely remember. The same thing applies to almost anything. It's seldom the decision that's difficult; it's carrying out the decision that takes strength.

Every day moments come up in which I look at my knuckles, and the words "This Too Shall Pass" move through my mind. I know that this moment is temporary, but what I choose to do with it will be carried with me forever.

 

 

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October 22, 2008 by Craig Weller Post a Comment
It was tagged with inspiration, philosophy, 28251 days, ultima forsan hora, and memento mori

Comments for This Entry

  1. Very interesting stuff as usual Craig. I think James Dean summed it up well;
    "Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today."

    Posted on 05:29PM on October 24, 2008 [permalink]

  2. Craig-

    Well said bro. Poetic and brilliant as always. Someday you should combine all of your collected writings into a book. It would be like sort of a mental workout for athletes.

    Posted on 10:43AM on October 29, 2008 [permalink]

  3. Thank you, Craig, for the inspiration you provide us. It is really important to have someone writing such articles to show you that you LIVE YOUR LIFE, and that should not just be existence.

    Thanks again, it helped me, and I guess many others to clear up the life goals.

    Posted on 03:52PM on December 05, 2008 [permalink]

  4. My God Craig, where do you get all this from?!

    Posted on 03:53AM on December 23, 2008 [permalink]

  5. Is'nt it amazing? Disciplined, strong exercise which pushes your body and mind to the edge and shapes your body, also clears your mind to such an extent that you can actually start judging people better,understanding them better and respond (not react) to them better. What an inspiring post!!

    Posted on 11:22PM on December 29, 2008 [permalink]

  6. Anywhere that I can get a copy of that notebook square so I can make my own version and track my 'remaining days'?

    Awesome site. Just awesome.

    Posted on 05:36AM on April 03, 2009 [permalink]

  7. We have a book that we give to members and are considering putting a blank Memento Mori grid in the back sp people can track their time. We haven't made the template yet though. It's fairly easy to make your own. Just get a ruler and mark out a grid 52 blocks wide and 80 or so tall. I have a picture of mine in the Memento Mori blog.

    Posted on 06:08AM on April 03, 2009 [permalink]

  8. Dang Craig that is awesome and that just gave me the courage to ask out the girl that i have been liking for a while. Thanks man!

    Lando

    Posted on 10:15AM on May 11, 2009 [permalink]

  9. Thank you. I really needed to hear that right now. I sincerely appreciate your passion for life and the fact that you, too, are living it OUT LOUD!

    "The thoughts in your mind dictate your actions and determine who you are."
    "I fear the prospect of wasting my life."
    "I will be able to stand on that moment, and reap the benefits..."
    That to me, is success!

    Life is only made of moments. The ones you remember are the ones that you really made count.
    Thanks, again.

    Posted on 06:45AM on July 26, 2009 [permalink]

  10. You and your readers would probably enjoy the James Allen Library (www.jamesallenlibrary.com). It has all of his works (including As a Man Thinketh) available that follow the along the lines of "As a man thinketh, so shall he be.”

    Posted on 12:37PM on August 31, 2009 [permalink]

  11. I've read As A Man Thinketh before and it's a great book. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Posted on 01:41PM on August 31, 2009 [permalink]

  12. Craig, You are an amazing person. Every day you take life by the horns and drag it to where you want to be. You are faith filled and courageous. You have fought for your country, your family, and your friends. You live life with no regreat, no looking back. You are able to do things that the smilpe man cannot understand. We should all be so lucky to call you a friend, i get to call you family. You make me so proud, I just dont think i'll ever have all the words to describe just how you effect my life.
    Ang

    Posted on 09:17AM on March 05, 2010 [permalink]

  13. Great Post.

    I had a thought about Daniel Gilbert's book. He says that 90% of people say the things they most regret are times that they didn't take action. But isn't it inevitable that we all will have such times? Doesn't the finite nature of existence make it so that something is always left undone?

    I wonder about this question..since it asks about regrets, doesn't it naturally elicit a response that would focus on a person's possessive nature? Sometimes language can play tricks on us, so that asking a person what they regret will not actually reveal anything about happiness at all. It is the wrong question.

    Perhaps the wisest would simply answer that they don't regret anything, everything was as it needed to be to come to THIS moment, now, in which regret isn't present, and which is therefore much more satisfying.

    Posted on 02:31AM on May 10, 2010 [permalink]

  14. A person's opinion of an experience is significantly different during an event than after it. Our "remembering selves" will often take an entirely different view of an experience than what we actually felt during it. So yeah, there can be some variability and inherent bias to the people who answered that question.

    The "I regret nothing" view is actually a very common one, which we seem to have powerful self-protecting mechanisms for generating. Gilbert's book has a number of examples of people who were falsely imprisoned, had their legs amputated due to an accident, were sent to concentration camps and all said something afterward to the effect of "I don't regret a thing." It's cognitive dissonance driven rationalization.

    Posted on 10:35AM on May 10, 2010 [permalink]

  15. I agree!

    Posted on 10:50PM on May 10, 2010 [permalink]

  16. I really enjoyed reading your post about the way you think about things in your life. The headline grabbed my attention "This too shall pass", because I read a book by Og Mandino called, " The Greatest Salesman in the World", which talked about this philosophy. It is something that I strive to live by also. I agree with what you said about wasting time as something I also think about daily. Sometimes I feel like I should sleep less to get more done. However, sleep is needed to repair the body and mind of the daily output of energy and to refresh your mind to face a new day. One more thing I wanted to ask, is have you read the book by Og Mandino? If you have not read it, you should get it and read it along with his other books. This man's books has changed thousands of lives and inspires people every day. His personal story about his life is amazing how he was once homeless and spent his time in libraries to keep warm and was inspired while reading books in the library that started him on his writing career which saved his life and made him rich.

    Posted on 05:44AM on May 15, 2010 [permalink]

  17. I haven't read Mandino's book yet, but I have it on my list. I'll have to get to it. Thanks.

    Posted on 04:16PM on May 15, 2010 [permalink]

  18. Thank you for replying to my comments. What type of reading do you enjoy? I know it has been some time now since your post on 28,251 days. You said you went into the concept more indepth in your post and I was just curious if you still have any information available on 28,251 days that you could send me? Do you recommend any motivational information that you know works for you from past experience?

    Posted on 09:16PM on May 16, 2010 [permalink]

  19. Have you read the "15 Tips" article? There is some more information in there. As for what I read, I bounce from subject to subject quite a bit and usually read a few different books at once. My favorites are usually the old stoic stuff like Seneca, Epictetus and Aurelius. I'd look into those if you haven't yet.

    Posted on 01:02PM on May 17, 2010 [permalink]

  20. "Do the Hard Thing First." I just graduated and am thinking about not regretting what's next. The economy is in the tank, and some of my brother's friends have thrown their lives away and are stuck in minimum wage jobs. My brother did the hard thing and graduated from Fordham ROTC the Ram Battalion, Internatioal Relations. He's an awesome athlete and never quits until he's achieved his goals. He's now in Iraq in the infrantry. He's challenged every day.He's got a great future ahead. I followed his footsteps and received a ROTC scholarship to Texas A & M Corp of Cadets Battalion. It was "doing the hard thing" that earned me one, so I am ready for the challenge. I'm into physical fitness like my brother. I run 5 miles a day, weight lift and hope to deadlift more. I'm not wasting one day if I can help it.
    Sam

    Posted on 09:59PM on August 04, 2010 [permalink]

  21. great article, it easy to forget how few days we have on this earth and how foolish spending time regretting is.

    Many times the things we "regret" are actually the things we learn the most from in life.



    Posted on 04:06PM on October 20, 2010 [permalink]

  22. We are all accountable for what we do here during our time. You have to ask yourself "How did you impact the people around you?" It's all you really have. Great post.

    Posted on 07:49AM on October 24, 2010 [permalink]

  23. Has anyone created a Memento Mori grid they could send to me?

    Posted on 04:00AM on March 20, 2011 [permalink]

  24. Awesome mate! thanks for sharing!

    Posted on 10:12PM on December 04, 2012 [permalink]

Comments are closed for this post.