Or how to feel your way through Life
"Hay Más Tiempo Que Vida"
— Mexican proverb
I've been thinking a lot about Timing lately.
I've heard multiple people (a couple generations older than me) talking about looking back on their lives and realizing that — even though they did the right things, their Timing was off, so they missed the opportunities that they were hoping for. It’s not that their actions and outcomes weren’t enjoyable — it’s that they knew that they could be more, and they just… weren’t.
I’m a beginner surfer. I’ve never stood up on a board, but according to my gracious surf instructor, I still surfed 😁 And it was wicked fun. In surfing, it’s all about Timing.
First off, you’ve got to be in the right place, at the right time. You’ve got to have favorable winds, and have timed the off-shore swells just right. The swells come from hundreds of miles — multiple weeks — out in the ocean; they’re meteorologically predictable. But the winds can vary from day-to-day, and can change the surf forecast on an hour-by-hour basis.
Yeah, not complicated, right?
So let’s just say you’re in the right place, at the right time. You’ve figured out the surf forecast, you’ve paddled out there, you’ve sat and watched the timing of the sets, and you’re ready to catch one.
Well, the hardest part is choosing your wave.
Choosing is a form of gambling. It’s trying to predict not just a “winner”, but something you personally can “win”. It means paddling out into the center, choosing the correct timing, and paddling like hell. It means bracing yourself as the sheer force of the wave starts to overtake you. It means keeping your balance in multiple dimensions or risking a wipeout.
So in one sense, it's better to take your time and catch the right wave than it is to rush and catch the wrong wave. But then again, you can’t just let all the waves go by you, or else you’ll definitely never catch one.
And in another sense, you've got to be ready to paddle your damnedest to catch that wave at the right time if you're sure it's the one you want to ride, or else you’ll have let a perfect wave pass you by.
Damn, no pressure, right?
Well, no, not really. Because we all have, like, infinite-many waves to catch!
There are these defining moments in life — these hair-split moments in time — where everything seems to be riding on what we say or do next. We feel, deep in our guts, that our lives are going to split, all based on our next decision.
That’s the time when we need to paddle like hell.
And yeah, OK, sure, fine, we won’t always make it. We’ll mess up. We’ll miss-time things. We’ll not paddle fast enough. We’ll lose our balance.
But did you know that in a typical two-hour surfing session, catching “a couple” waves is considered normal? I’ve asked so many experienced surfers, “how’d it go out there today?” and the’ve all been ecstatic — not to have done things perfectly — but to have just gone out and enjoyed their experience.
The phrase “Hay más tiempo que vida” literally means "there's more time than life", but culturally means both “Chill out, there's time" but also, "The defining moments in life might catch us off guard, and opportunities might pass us by, so don't delay decisions." (source)
What's the solution to correct timing? Well, I can’t answer that for you. I can only answer that for me. And for me, it's a matter of following my intuition, and taking actions towards those things in my life which are bringing me the most joy at the moment — which seem most “light”. I'd rather pursue my dreams now, at whatever scale I can, than defer them to some hypothetical, theoretical, idealistic future.