Mike Gyi

May 7, 2021

The Tragedy of Time

The topic of mortality has bubbled within me for a few years and resurfaced last week because of this year’s Oscar award-winner Nomadland. I watched it last Saturday, alone (not advised) and the story evoked a raw sense of time, life, and death. 

It left me stunned—I thought:

"Wow, time truly is a tragedy".

Why time? 

Well, the length of our life is measured by time, it's like a finite tape measure. Also, I don't think it's fair for me to suggest that your life is a tragedy so 'time' sounded better :D

Why a tragedy? 

Well, our mate Shakespeare’s tragedies end in the death of the story’s hero—that's you in your story. 

Ok, so this is a bit depressing and I promised myself I was going to make this positive. So let me explain how I try to deal with my tragedy of time. 

I think being content plays a huge part. For this, I'm inspired by Scandinavians because they seem to have everything so bloody worked out. They understand how to reach a level of contentment in their lives and stay there. It's embedded in their education and culture. 

They don't shout about how content they are, they just are. Whereas I feel the rest of us, especially in my culture, chase happiness in vain. The difference between temporal happiness and a constant state of contentment is stark. Recognising this state as the goal and not happiness, for me, is the first step to improving our tragedy.

So how do we get there?

I'm pretty sure you already know how to become content. There's been enough said and written, but I'll try to explain my thoughts here, for my own benefit too(!)

Firstly, I believe it’s crucial to cultivate your curiousity and tend to your relationships. 

Studies have shown that you can extend your time here if you have close relationships with people, real deep relationships. This means being a part of each other's lives, talking, not texting. If you don't like talking on the phone, try getting better at it, find a way that works for you, it's just another habit you could create. I still have a long way to go with this as I used to be a texting warrior, but I much prefer a call now or a voice note (in most cases!). 

Curiousity is crucial. Endless fascination with the world can lead you to endless learning and rich experiences. More importantly, if you cultivate your curiousity there's a good chance it'll lead you to your passion, resulting in more day-to-day meaning via volunteering or work you love. Luckily, it’s a habit too and there are plenty of articles that'll help with this. Be persistent and consistent in your search, don't stop, take small steps forward.

I think these two things alone could add years to your life. Plus they'll enrich your existing ones. 

Secondly, I think a wake-up call is needed. You can read things on the internet, like this, and it feels nice and cosy, but it doesn't kick start change. I believe we need traumatic personal experiences to wake up from our time slumber. For example, this could be a heavy personal loss, near-death or even the pandemic has shown to be a healthy worldwide minor trauma where people have had the chance to stop and think existential thoughts such as:

"What the f*ck am I doing?"

So if you're working a 5-day week when financially you’d be ok without, or if you have limiting beliefs that you're “just not that good enough” to learn something new (read this), or if you're too afraid to travel to somewhere far-flung to do a strange pilgrimage or something similar...well, why not just do it? Why not search for these things to expand the time you already have? 

I’m adamant that the real party starts outside of your comfort zone. So try new things, find out what you like, work out what makes you tick, and go forth. 

Your time is running out and there’s no one who’s going to turn over your hourglass for you. Your life is a tragedy, the main hero is going to die, but you still have the power to write the rest of your play. 

So prithee, play on :D :D

About Mike Gyi

UX/Product, ex-architecture, ex-TW, community addict, building https://www.townspot.uk