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Last week I began physical therapy sessions designed to assist my broken fibula in getting back into shape. Before any exercise took place, the therapist placed a heating pad on the affected area and set a timer for 15 minutes. All I had to do was lie there and think. And listen.

What was I  listening to? The timer, which was ticking off seconds loudly and could not be ignored. Inactivity that would have otherwise been relaxing became a metaphor (simile?) for life. I was literally listening to the sound of time passing.

What if that sound was the soundtrack to our lives? What if each passing second was marked by the tick of the timer and we could hear it? Would that sound push us into action or paralyze us with fear?

I found myself thinking about all of the seconds I’ve wasted doing things or worrying about things that I didn’t want to do and didn’t need to be worrying about. I wondered how many ticks of the timer I have wasted by wallowing in useless thought rather than participating in productive activity. I thought about what I want to do with the remainder of the time on my timer.

What do you want to do before your timer goes off? Are you doing it now? Or have you settled for something less? Do you have career aspirations? Personal aspirations? Needs and desires that have yet to be fulfilled? Are you wishing you could reset the timer and start over? Maybe you feel that you have accomplished all that you set out to do.

I feel fortunate that I have a fulfilling personal life. I am grateful every day for my family and the joy they bring to my life, which is filled with love and support and compassion. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. That said, I hope to be able to travel someday. I want to see the world, or at least parts of it. I want to expand my worldview and see the world through new eyes because I suspect that there is so much that I don’t understand.

When it comes to my career, I’m grateful that I work for an organization that is in the business of improving lives. I know I play an integral role in that process. I can bear witness to the dedication of my coworkers and the passion that they bring to their work. But I want to contribute on a higher level. I want to make a difference doing something that I enjoy. I don’t want to settle; I want to face new challenges. I don’t want to run out of time before I discover my potential. I know I’m not alone.

The timer is ticking. What do you want to do before your timer goes off?