For a long time, I stood in front of my kitchen chalkboard and stared at the number I'd written there.
A number I'd been obsessing over for weeks now.
The number of seconds in a day.
It all started with a simple quote I read somewhere.
You've got 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to smile?
I've got so many inspiring quotes rushing past on my various feeds every day, but for some reason this one made me really stop and think.
It seems like such a large number, but I'd already used up 600 seconds or so just standing there pondering the number.
Poof. They were gone. Sand at the bottom of an unflippable hourglass.
I try my very best to live every moment to its fullest, but how many seconds had I wasted doing things I didn't want to do?
How many seconds had I spent living like a drone, wishing for the day to be over before it had even begun?
Thinking about it sent a wave of panic washing over me. All those precious seconds I'd taken for granted, neglected, and that were now gone forever.
Was I living half a life?
Shortly after, I went to Cuba for my family vacation, and I was determined to savour every one of my 86, 400 seconds.
I woke up every day with only one goal; live life to the fullest and don't waste a second. That might sound like two goals, but the two go hand in hand, don't you think?
So, for four days I lived the best I've ever lived. We drank tropical cocktails under the Havana sun, toured the city in a convertible with the top down, and laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. It was a beautiful time in a beautiful place.
But by the fifth day I could feel my anxiety starting to creep back in. This would all be over soon, and I'd have to return to my regular life. My half life. A sad thought, since I'd really gotten to like living a full one.
Could I keep living my 86, 400 seconds to the fullest back in reality? Was that even possible?
We went to a restaurant that night, and I immediately noticed a woman sitting alone at the table next to ours.
Our eyes locked and she smiled at me. I smiled back.
As we waited for our drinks to arrive, my boys reminisced about the amazing day we'd had. In our enthusiasm all of us were talking over each other, recapping our favourite moments, laughing constantly.
I looked over and noticed the woman was watching us and smiling.
Our drinks showed up, and as we looked over the food menu, there was a natural lull in the conversation.
The solo diner took advantage of the silence and remarked, "You have a lovely family."
We thanked her. My husband looked at me and motioned his head towards her. I knew he meant: Should we ask her to join us?
I nodded. Yes. Of course.
Mike extended the invitation to her.
Without hesitation she said yes, grabbed her wine glass, and moved to our table.
Her name was Nicole. She lived in Quebec and was traveling alone.
She was lovely, and I immediately liked her.
Nicole was an avid traveler, and she dazzled us with stories of her escapades, which she told in such vibrant detail it felt like we were living every moment with her.
Her energy was magical.
We learned a lot about her. She'd done so much, her life packed with joy and adventure, most recently a whirlwind love affair with a beautiful dancer. The story was so exotic and glamorous, I wondered if she'd stepped out of the pages of a romance novel.
Her special charm was intoxicating to be around, and we hung on every word she spoke.
Her zest for life was so vibrant, so youthful.
So you can imagine our shock when she revealed that she was actually 70 years young.
We all gasped! She chuckled at our reaction.
This truly was a woman taking advantage of her 86,400 daily seconds.
I had to ask: "Nicole, what's your secret to living such an extraordinary life and embracing every moment like you do?"
"Oh, my friend", she said, "life is not always champagne and fireworks. I've also experienced my fair share of sadness and struggle. I just choose to look at these moments as a doorway to understanding life. These uncomfortable emotions can empower you and help you see what really matters: kindness, love, and compassion."
"The way I look at it...Life is terminal and I just have to live every moment."
Then she picked up her wine glass, raised it in the air, and announced, "I may have more adventures behind me than ahead of me, but my answer is a renewed passport for ten more years!"
"To living life!" We all raised our glasses and drank.
Meeting her was such a gift that day. She helped me realize I wasn't wasting any seconds during times of struggle, doing things I didn't want to do. I needed to understand that these moments are crucial in shaping and guiding me towards my best life.
Without these times I won't become the person I need to be.
Thank you, Nicole, for making me realize that I really am living 86, 400 seconds every day!
So, how are you spending yours today?
The clock is ticking.
Written by Heidi -- Founder of the Positive People Army
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