Don’t Take Your Time
by Gregg Krech

There are many ways in which we “take our time”.  We stroll through the woods on a weekend morning.  We drink a cup of tea after sharing dinner with friends.  We make our way through a good novel on a cold and wintry evening.

Sometimes, while waiting for someone who’s running late, we say, “Take your time.” It’s a strange phrase.  You can’t really “take” your time.  However, you can slow down and relax into the situation, without rushing.

But there are times when you shouldn’t take your time.  If your wife is about to give birth, you should rush, you should move fast. If you see someone drowning in the pond, you should run to help them. The question of whether we take our time or don’t take our time is determined by the needs of the situation, not by our feelings or what we want to do.

The other day I was at a social gathering where I met a former student whom I hadn’t seen for nearly 20 years.  He said, “I’ve decided that I’m going to figure out what I need to do with my life.”

“Wonderful,” I said.

“But I’m not going to rush.  I’m going to take my time.”

My friend is 77 years old.

I suggested that he not take his time.  I suggested that he rush.  And it’s not because he’s 77 years old.  It’s because finding your purpose, or your mission in life, or your dharma or ikigai, (so many words for this important concept), is not something you should take your time with.  It’s more like rescuing the person who’s drowning in the lake.  And you are that person.

My friend, who is 77, may live another twenty years.  And someone who is 39 my die before the end of the year.  We just don’t know.  We don’t know how much time we have left – how much life we have left.

At the same gathering a musician happened to play a song by Phil Ochs called, “When I’m Gone.”  The end of the first verse is,

“And you won’t find me singin’ on this song when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.”

At the end of the second verse, he says,

My pen won’t pour a lyric line when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.

There are four more verses with the same theme – when you’re dead, you won’t be able to do anything.  So if there’s something you need to do, you better do it while you’re alive.

So what is it that you want to do with your life?  If you know, then get started right away.  Don’t delay.  Don’t take your time.  Feeling anxious, unconfident, unprepared and afraid, just jump in and get started.

And if you don’t know what to do with your life, don’t take your time figuring it out.  Rush. Hurry.  Move quickly.  This is not a fire drill.  This is the real thing.

Phil Ochs says, “I won’t feel the flowing of the time when I’m gone.”  But you can feel it now. The second hand ticks.  The date on the calendar changes.  The leaves burst into green, then change to orange-red and then shrivel up and fall to the ground.

So don’t take your time.  Use your time wisely.  The question of how to use it wisely is an urgent question that demands action.  Now.

Gregg Krech will be leading the upcoming program, Living on Purpose, from Jan 8 – Feb. 7, 2023.  Gregg is the author of numerous books about Japanese Psychology, including The Art of Taking Action.  You can register for the Purpose Program HERE.


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