It’s that time of the year when most people quit their resolutions for the New Year – to lose weight, organize closets, clean out the attic, stick to a budget. Sounds familiar? Now think about this for a second. If you really, really want to do any of this, why wait for a particular day on the calendar to go for it?
Many years ago, in my more adventurous youth, I was part of a rally of cars driving through the foothills of the Himalayas. Some of the trails that we drove through were precarious and dangerous. We had to stop many times to rest and assess our path.
On one rest stop at a campsite high up in the mountains, I woke up to a misty morning and made myself a cup of coffee on our camping stove. As the sun began to rise, I carried my coffee to the edge of the road to take in the vista below covered in swirling mist.
And that’s when I noticed a lone monk perched on the edge of the precipice, deep in meditation. I wondered if he had been there all night. As the rays of the sun slowly filled the valley with light, the monk came out of his reverie. He stood up and stretched, still on the edge, making my heart skip a beat. He looked at the rising sun, let out a deep breath and turned around to climb back up the road. I was fascinated.
As he came up to the road, I approached him and asked him wasn’t it dangerous being so close to the edge of the abyss. He responded, ‘Are we all not just two minutes from the abyss anyway?’
I realized at that moment how right he was. I thought back to the many times over the years I have personally had a near miss with a speeding car, a close shave while crossing the road, or a close encounter with a reckless driver on a busy highway and realized how I have always been just two minutes from the abyss.
Most of us don’t realize this or acknowledge it. What we all want is to harness the power of time, to slow it down, speed it up, recapture it or simply make it count. But the only time any of us can truly master is right now.
That morning in the Himalayas, I learned a very important lesson. Instead of coasting through life waiting for life to happen to me, I woke up to the importance of living my life with a sense of urgency.
If something is important enough to you, then why wait for a specific date? There’s no guarantee that something won’t change or detract you from it before that date. All you have is now. We should get up every morning and count ourselves fortunate for having one more shot at making a difference, leaving a legacy, and changing the planet.
For many people, the last few weeks of the year are a time of reflection. A time to look back at how their year has gone, and what they’re looking forward to in the coming year.
This year, I urge you to think about your NOW. If you knew that you had only one more day to live, what are the things you would do? Let that urgency fuel actions that lead to deeper connections, a higher purpose, and finding your passion and joy.
I leave you with these lines from Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run that define a sense of urgency brilliantly.
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle— when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”
This article is adapted from Vijay Eswaran’s new book Two Minutes from the Abyss, published by Networking Times Press.
Vijay Eswaran is a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, and author. He has published three bestsellers on leadership and mindfulness. Praised as “a beautiful book” by self-help genre pioneer Stephen Covey, In the Sphere of Silence, has sold over half a million copies to date. His latest book, Two Minutes from the Abyss, was published in 2017.