William Liao

February 17, 2022

this is 28

New Year's Day and birthdays are unique in that they tend to make the short-lived, blink-of-an-eye nature of a human life span especially salient for me — more so than the changing of the seasons or any other day of the year. 

You only get to ring in the New Year with friends so many times and, if you make it far enough, that pool of friends will shrink. 

And birthdays, though they start as a celebration of your entry into this world, eventually evolve into a stronger and stronger reminder of your inevitable exit.

I say none of this to be excessively somber but to paint the sense of urgency that I feel as I enter my 28th year of life. 

Knowing that I am minus another year of life and that I have no idea how many more I will get, I find myself asking: how can I make sure that I spend what time remains on the things that I will not regret? And how can I ensure that I maintain a clear-headed perspective on the precious nature of time throughout the year so as to not take it for granted?

Over the last year or so, I have been taking some steps to address these questions in my writing: I wrote a letter to 80-year-old me about my wishes for my future self, I found humility in realizing that a typical human lifespan represents only about .0000000071% of the universe's existence, and finally I wrote recently about the empowering yet often-ignored truth that tomorrow is never guaranteed

If I learned anything from writing, it’s that perspective is everything. 

Actually, I think perspective is probably the single most important tool anyone can leverage to make the most of each day.

To understand on a deep level that life is both short and not guaranteed, and that the best chance to do and say what matters is the chance you're afforded in the present moment is one of the surest ways not to waste time. 

And with that, I look forward not another year of life but instead directly at this temporary moment with a sense of joy knowing that I'm spending it doing what I care about and with a sense of gratitude for getting to have this moment at all.