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August 31, 2021

On Time: What it Feels Like when our To-Do Lists Remain Unticked.


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I woke up today with a burning desire to finally write what I had promised myself I would.

As I poured myself a cup of coffee, I contemplated which of my pen’s I would use to write. A chime on my phone notified me about a friend’s post on my Facebook wall. I looked at it and then scrolled to the next post and got lost scrolling through the newsfeeds.

A week later, I stood in front of the mirror getting my scrub top on for work. The sides of my belly looked like skin-coloured pool floaties. Embarrassed, I resolved to improve the way I looked. That evening, I was resolute in going for a run. I slipped into my training gear and tied up my shoelaces.

An inbox alert on my phone notified me of an article about running to improve fitness. So I sat down and read the entire email. An hour later, I was still there surfing links for techniques to improve running form. A dozen links later, I found myself on a website that talked about running plans. I read it and set up a schedule. I decided to start tomorrow.

Fast forward a few months to the first day of the new year, I decided to write a list of goals for the New Year ahead. One of my dot points said, “Finally, read 50 books this year.” “Call granddad at least once a week. He is frail…tell him how much you miss him,” was another.

Immediately after writing this list, I picked up my first book for the year and read a page of the foreword. But then, my phone rang. It was my friend calling to wish me a Happy New Year. We chatted about life and our goals for an hour or so. I spent the rest of the day eating and hanging out with family and binge-watching episodes of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” When my eyes opened, it was dark. My watch face illuminated with the date “second of January, 1:04 a.m.” I walk into bed.

I am seeing a trend in my life. I have promised myself that I will write more often, read, make those phone calls to the people I love. And in doing so, I have created an endless list of lists in which I have resolved to start…tomorrow.

But the days have slipped into months, months into years, and my lists have remained unticked.

A decade later, grey-haired and wrinkly eyed, I look out the window and watch another little bird peck at the rather large half loaf of stale bread I left there the day before. It bites at it morsel by morsel. Why didn’t I do the same with the things I wanted to do? At the age of 25, I wanted to write and be fitter than I had been at 20. I wanted to read 50 books a year, to have a big party with my friends, and to call my grandfather once a week to tell him what he had meant to me. I could have just read a page daily and made that phone call once every two weeks to begin with.

In five years, I will have lived on the planet for 40 years. I have not published a book, let alone kept a regular journal. I am not fitter than I was 10 years ago. I read six books from cover to cover last year. I still haven’t had that epic party I had wanted to. As for my grandfather…he’s passed away.

What will a decade from now look like? What will my 50-year-old look back and write about me today? So today, I decided to write this. I went for a 30-minute bike ride and a 15-minute run this morning and read for 30 minutes. It has been a week since I had anything with sugar in it.



In the margins of the book I started reading today, I noticed a few words in my writing. The fact that it was hard to read made me realise I had written it. It reads, “Time flies swifter than a weaving shuttle.” True words—because in the blink of an eye, a decade will go by. If I were still alive, what will I wish I had done?

So these days, I ask myself what could I do today—so that tomorrow I will wish that I had, a little less.



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