Life is like a train running on a long track with many equidistant stations, each station representing the completion of a year. The number of stations will vary from individual to individual. For some this could be as high as 90; for others only 30 or 40. Of course there are many who have to disembark from the train even before reaching the fifth station, for whom the journey stops even before it has begun properly. Not considering these unfortunate cases, on an average, say, a typical person crosses 70 stations before the end. The question is why subsequent stations seem to arrive quicker. Or in other words, in hindsight, why does it seem for example, that the time taken for my twelfth birthday is more than the time between my twelfth and twenty fourth birthdays.
One reason could be that the predictability of life increases as a person gains on in years. When life becomes predictable, naturally the element of challenge goes out. I am not saying life stops throwing up challenges beyond a certain age. However, as we move ahead, subsequent challenges stop intriguing and enriching our life. We carry on as if in a stupor, as if programmed to live instead of having an active say in moving life forward. We play safe and always try to find tried and tested solutions for our problems. Or in other words, the train is on autopilot mode since the track is now familiar and won’t change and hence it crosses more and more stations without the driver having to take particular notice. This in turn makes us makes us feel that the train is accelerating.
I remember till I entered teenage, there were many different professions that future life held in store. In the order of decreasing preference these were: locomotive driver, scientist, astronaut, sailor. I dreamt about driving a steam engine on never ending tracks; inventing a little space ship and zooming into the infinities of space; exploring the depths of the ocean in a submarine. The possibility, albeit remote, of these dreams turning to reality some day made life richer, fuller, and bigger. Life was worth twelve years in the first twelve years. In the next twelve, maybe ten. I am not sure how much the next twelve will be worth but I would be surprised if it will be more than about eight.
So how do we slow down our train? How do we get more life per life?
The answer lies in doing something extra beyond the daily humdrum of life, something that you truly love. For e.g. you could try to learn a musical instrument like the guitar. This may not guarantee a world tour of music shows a decade hence but you may be good enough to stage shows for the people in your apartment complex or even a close group of friends. Or you could take up a university course through a distance learning program in a subject that always fascinated you. You might be an IT professional with a decade of experience though your free time is spent pondering how galaxies form. Maybe the time is just right to take up a course in astronomy. Knowledge enriches.
There is a caveat here. Whatever you do, make sure you do not do it primarily for money. The moment an activity is driven by money, it will enrich your bank account but not you. If money comes along, be grateful and accept. Don’t start a part-time business in children’s toys just for the heck of it; start one if you still love playing with toys and feel you could introduce interesting new designs.
Believe me, whatever extra you do, as long as you love doing it, when you look back at the end of say, a decade, it will seem worth the effort. Definitely, it will slow the train so that the journey will seem fulfilling. It will broaden your horizon. Who knows you may also discover the true purpose of your being – why were you put here on earth?