I’ve met a lot of people in my life, the smartest person I have met (thus far) passed away earlier this year at 82. I made friends with him during the last 5 years. We had all the characteristics of good friendship – honesty, trust, care, inter-dependence, willingness to provide a shoulder to lean on when one needs help, forgiveness and a genuine desire to help the other become a better person.
I miss my friend. A lot.
He taught me much and I, him. We shared. Stories. I was fascinated with his stories of life. Not necessarily his life, but life in general, in particular where he saw ‘opportunities’ and others saw ‘challenges’. Guess who got the rewards? Yep, “nothing risked, nothing gained”, he would tell me. Made me realise that life was a big exercise in “Risk Management” … but I won’t go in to that right now, it can be a topic for later.
Back to my dear friend … I saw him 3 times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays) between 10:30 & 12 noon, in my gym – for our usual chats and his exercise. I got him to work on his breathing, sense of balance, strength, agility and keeping the ‘whole body’ in mind. Basically, make him exert enough effort to his skeletal and smooth muscles, to help make his daily activities just that little bit easier and more pleasant – like walking, walking up stairs, carrying shopping bags, doing a little gardening and breathing better. He certainly lived a long life, but he was more interested in adding “Life to his years”, in the 5 years I had known him.
He was so diligent in his approach to exercise that he came in for a workout on his 80th birthday. He sat on the reclining stationary bike to warm up and I got everyone in the gym to sing ‘happy birthday’ and cheered ‘Hip hip, hooray!!’. I think he enjoyed the attention. After the singing, we started our chat and I thought I’d ask him in honour of his 80th birthday what was the one thing he could share with me that he learned in his last 40 years that he hadn’t known in his first 40 years. He stopped pedalling for a few seconds, looked up to the gym ceiling and said …
“Work on being a master of your funnel, Paul”, he uttered whilst catching his breath.
“Don’t stop cycling, mate, keep those legs pumping!” I said “Don’t think, answering my question gives you permission to stop moving.”
He smiled, gave me a look, and happily continued.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “What funnel?”
He called out, over the music in the gym, “I learned how to cut out more bul#@it in my life, Paul.”
This was very interesting, coming from a man who had a huge part of his career in advertising and strategy, advising large companies on selling. Matter of fact he ran a company that employed 200+ people, which he successfully sold along with another business he started after that. He had also acted as adviser to some of the most prominent businessmen Australia had ever seen. This retired friend of mine did alright for himself.
He then proceeded to say that in life, we get bombarded with so much ‘stuff’, and now more than ever, due to the proliferation of the various media types, one has to be more diligent in ‘policing’ the many sensory stimulants entering our minds through what we see, hear, who we talk to and the groups we mix with. We have to exercise vigilance in self-regulating behaviour, in particular, with regards to the impact exposure to all this modern-day living ‘stuff’ (or in his words “bul#$@it”) has on you.
A lot of this ‘stuff’ does not really have any place in your life, and really does not in the whole scope of life. We have 86,400 seconds in a day. Use those seconds wisely.
Try this suggestion; Limit your television viewing to stimulating, special shows. If you make television watching a habit, you can become narrow-minded, tunnel vision sets in and creative imagination will vanish. All the better if you can record or download them and watch when it fits your schedule instead of someone else’s.
See how you feel in 1 week.
A famous company slogan goes something like this …. “Life is short”… we could all heed the advice from my wise friend and assess how well we are using our own funnels in sieving out the irrelevant ‘crap’ from our lives NOW … not 40 years from now.
Maybe, just maybe, we will not only add years to our life … but more importantly, LIFE TO OUR YEARS!