During this time of year, a time of reflection, I can comfortably say this year has been an incredibly awesome year. Time has been good to us. We have grown together as a family, had points that strengthened our core, challenged our sanity, laughed an amazing amount, cried some too, but all together. We even added a new little one.
This year was good. Life is good.
But I Haven’t Been So Good To It.
We have been here before. We have come full circle. I am sitting here reflecting on the post I wrote just a year ago promising all these changes, some of which happened. And I think starting off the year strong is a given, but as time went on, all those things faded into the abyss. I exercised. I probably annoyed everyone with constant pictures of myself doing the Insanity workout. But dammit, I did it! And, honestly, it was great, and I don’t think I ever felt as good as I did at that point. Then I got lazy. But then I tried again. This time T25. Then I quit. Then I sat on the couch and became a potato and couldn’t even bring myself to try.
And while sitting on the couch, I couldn’t bring myself to read one of those books a month that I promised myself I would. I tried. I always had one next to my bed, but it never happened for a million little reasons. All that structure I told myself would happen faded with time. I used to learn the Daf Yomi every day, but then I started some new projects with work and convinced myself that I was “too busy” and didn’t have time.
Those are all excuses. And bad ones I might add.
I once heard that some of the most successful leaders take “alone” time. Time to just sit and think and decompress. I had an epiphany when I was in Brighton a couple weeks ago and had some serious alone time. Since May, hell, since we made Aliyah, I hadn’t taken any REAL time to myself. I felt blocked and on auto pilot.
This summer didn’t help. We had a war. My family almost didn’t make it back to Israel (I am being dramatic, but sort of). I started a new job (jobs). Every distraction you can think about, we had.
But I know the problems at least. The problem is misusing the time I had.
Time Is A Precious Jewel
I once heard a great story. I can’t recall the source, but it’s been about 10 years since I heard it and it still impacts me every year around this time.
The story is of a simple jeweler living in the outskirts of the kings land. He was however the most skilled craftsman in the land. He could take the most ordinary jewels, rubies and gold and shape them into the most beautiful works of art anyone has seen.
It wasn’t before long that the king heard about this jeweler and decided that he was going to see how good this jeweler really was. The king personally went with his servants to the house of this jeweler. When the jeweler opened the door and saw the king standing before him he was shocked! “Your highness” he said, “I never dreamed that you would be standing at my door. What can I do for you?”
The king said to him, “I hear you can turn the most average jewels into the most beautiful works of art. I have a proposition for you. I will give you a chest filled will all the diamonds, rubies, gold and silver and all other priceless unique jewels that you can use and you have to make me the most uniquely amazing piece of work that I have ever seen. If you can do that, then you can keep all the extra jewels. And if not, then you have to return to me every jewel that is in that chest. Will you make this piece for me?”
The jeweler is excited and accepts the offer.
The king said to him “you have a year’s time to create this masterpiece”.
The jeweler sat down and began drawing up the designs for the king. But after a while he started to get frustrated and couldn’t think, so he decides to take a little break and focus on more important things for now. After all, he has a year and he has no doubt that he will please the king. He is so confident in fact, that he decides that it couldn’t hurt to start spending some of the profit that he will make.
Six months later the king decides to check up on the jeweler. He sent one of his messengers to the jewelers house. And the jeweler has clearly not thought about his job for a while. When he sees the messenger, he gets caught off guard. The messenger reminds him that he has six more months to create this masterpiece for the king. The messenger leaves and the jeweler gets nervous. He let so much time go to waste. So he sits down and starts to draw up some designs. But after a while, the same thing happens. He slowly begins to forget about his project.
With a month left the king decides to pay the jeweler a visit himself. He knocks on the door of the jeweler and when the jeweler answers the door, he sees the king and falls to the floor in fear. The king tells the jeweler that he stopped by to see how the progress on his jewel was coming? The man, scared that lying to the king could cost him his life, says, “your highness I really haven’t given much though to it at all”.
So the king says to him, “you know our deal. You have one month left and after that if you haven’t made the finest jewel for me then every last piece of the riches goes back to me”.
The jeweler is horrified. He takes a look into the treasure chest and he sees how many of the jewels he has spent. There are hardly any left. He sits down to work and he gives it his best.
When the king finally arrives the jeweler is anxiously waiting. The king says to the jeweler, “do you have my jewel?”
“I do” says the jeweler, and hands the king a box. Inside the box is the most exquisite necklace that anyone has ever seen. The king studied it hard and then said to the jeweler, “this truly is the most beautiful piece of jewelry I have ever seen”.
“But think” says the king, “think how much more beautiful it could have been if only you put in this effort from the beginning. There were so many jewels that could have gone into this that you never even saw. There was so much potential for this piece that was lost from the beginning. If only you worked as hard from the beginning as you did during that last month this may have been that much greater.”
And with that the king left.
I think the moral is very clear. Every second is a precious jewel. All the incredible things we could have done during the year if only we used our time in the right way. It’s upsetting to think about sometimes how much time is wasted. How much time I have wasted! The million times I could have pushed myself a little harder but said “I just need to rest for a minute” and there goes the night. The ideas I had that were ready to be created, but then… the internet.
There will always be distractions, but what have I been doing with the time I have? What have I been doing to block out those distractions?
This “Time” Will Be Different
I suppose all I can do is try. A few things that I have started doing recently (or want to do) to use my time better:
- My commute is a giant waste of time. I drive twice a week to Tel Aviv which takes me 4 hours total minimum. But its a complete waste. So thanks to my friend Shlomo, I have stated taking the train which allows me “quiet” time to read and think.
- Meditation. I think sometimes I am afraid to not actively do things. But I think its important. So I am going to try for 30 minutes a day to just have quiet time. Time to reflect, think, and re-calibrate.
- Exercise and Health. I really started stinking at that. I don’t even walk anymore. My car is my default. This needs to change. Thankfully I am healthy, but I have a family that I am terrified something could happen to me and… I will stop. I started riding my bike to work. I started walking. I need to eat healthier.
- Technology All The Time… this is a problem for me. I am frankly an addict. I need to learn to put down my phone and pay attention to whats around me. I know its a problem. I need to work on it.
Like I said, we have been here before. I have been here. Life is a cycle and it will keep going around and around. And we are back to where we started. But we are different every time. I feel different. And I know the same resolutions and changes I hope to make, the grandiose goals I have set for myself, will start off great and then life will kick in and the ups and downs will happen. I am confident there will be successes, but I also know that I will get back to this point next year and wonder, where did the time go!
If I can say I have learned anything from this year, its that the effort and pushing forward is more important than anything else. Time is precious and it needs to be treated that way. I need to take advantage of every second that I have. Life is too short not to.
To a year of using our time the best we can and making the most of it. A Shana Tova to everyone.