Are you wasting time?

Tomorrow is the 6th anniversary of an event that forever changed my relationship with time.  The experience is in the foreground of how I think about time now, and how I approach everything I do.

Six years ago today, I remember seeing the red light blinking on my home answering machine, and playing the message while wandering around the kitchen, with no warning about what I was about to hear.

I was surprised at the tone of my childhood best friend’s quivering voice speaking an eerily cryptic and barely audible message.

“Gabriella is in intensive care at Fairfax Hospital and it doesn’t look good. There is not much they can do.”

Her then 10-year old daughter, Gabriella would be 16 now. She experienced a sudden heart episode on the playground on the last day of her 5th grade school year in 2009, and was rushed to the hospital.

It happened just like that.

With no advance warning.

Her life was suddenly over.

Tomorrow is the 6-year anniversary of her death.

Not much more to say about that, now is there?

You can imagine the grief and sorrow her parents and loved ones all felt and still feel. You can wonder what she would have been like now at 16, a young lady, and try to visualize what she would be like if she was alive now. You can probably even feel the depth of the loss in your own heart—as you may recall the unanticipated loss of a loved one in your life.

What the memory of this tragic event did and does for me, however, is serve as a haunting reminder. I felt like I had been struck by lightening. The lightening hit me at the core of my being, and served as a catalyst to light a fire of urgency.

Urgency because I had dramatically seen first-hand that it could all just end—just like that, with no warning.

Urgency because it reminded me of how precious time is. How each and every moment is not a given.

Urgency because it made me think about how much time I spent wasting time.

Wasting time on things that didn’t matter. Climbing the corporate ladder, buying more and more things I didn’t need, and postponing my deeper visions and aspirations for tomorrow.

Wasting precious time without rationing it carefully and using it intentionally and deliberately.

Everything changed for me that year. My priorities, how I spend my time, and what I chose to pursue. The things I thought mattered to me, no longer did, and I got in touch with what really did.

So in memory of Gabriella’s short 10 years of life, I ask you to think about these simple questions:

• What changes do you need to make that you keep putting off to “another time”?
• What are you wasting your precious time on?
• What do you need to stop doing right now?
• What do you want to start doing and who do you want to start being—right now?

Take this occasion of her memory to serve as a catalyst for you to make the changes you need to make.



(Post Script: Simple Words of Wisdom from Gabriella’s last 5th grade essay at school:
“If I were president, I would stop war. I would also want to stop pollution. If I can stop it, I will. I’d try to save the animals and not cut down their habitats or their food, or make them extinct.”)