In life, sometimes we give up too much too fast.
I encountered the truth behind this when I was in 6th grade. During one of the exams, the bell rung and the teacher started collecting the answer sheets. I still had to write an essay and realized that I had run out of time to do it. These were small classrooms so you could not help not noticing what’s happening around you. One of my friends didn’t give up and started writing essay even as the teacher was approaching, collecting the papers. In the time it took for the teacher to reach him, he managed to finish writing a decent essay. It was a minor incident but it changed my life forever.
Fast forward to 2016 from 1986. I was enjoying holidays with family in Jamaica, but as it turns out, I had to come back to the Bay Area early to get back to work. Last minute ticket changes lead to red eye flights in economy class every time so, naturally, it happened this time as well. I took a flight from Montago Bay to MIA. The flight was supposed to reach the destination at 7 pm and my connecting flight was at 9:29 to SFO.
We landed 5 minutes ahead of schedule at 6:55 but, unfortunately, did not get assigned a gate. The pilot informed us that the gate was occupied as the airplane there got into maintenance issues. And because trouble rarely comes by itself, there also was an airport evacuation in progress. The result was that we waited for 50 minutes to be assigned a gate.
By the time I came out of the plane, it was around 8 pm so the race against time started and I still had to clear immigration and customs. Immigration had a huge line and it was crawling. For the first time, I felt the need to either apply for a global entry or to go back to an H1 visa.
So what you do when you are stuck like this? You count birds. Well not exactly. I tried to see how fast each leg of the line moves. I estimated that it was taking between 3 to 4 seconds. There were three officers checking for customs and handling one family at a time. Luckily, a lot of folks were traveling with their families which made the line go faster. I was so brain dead that I even forgot where I was coming from and told customs that I was on an island right next to Cuba. Luckily, I remembered that it was Jamaica before he got suspicious.
Finally, around 8:50 I got out of customs (with the next flight leaving at 9:29 pm) and rushed to baggage claim. I had planned to take my bag all the way to the gate and try to manually check it in there since the bag was small. The airport staff did not let me do that, though, and I had to get into another line for rebookings. The line was, again, crawling like a snail. Most of the folks around me had already missed their flights. If American Airlines staff would be trained wisely, they would keep one line for passengers whose flight leaves withing the next 30 minutes and the rest of the lines for those who missed their flights already or have some other concerns. Why inconvenience more people by mixing them with folks who are already screwed. It’s like putting ghosts and terminally ill together.
Well, I would have been one of the unlucky ones destined to miss my flight had I stayed in that line.
However, while I was waiting, a miracle happened and I heard the message that my connecting flight was also delayed and was now departing at 9:54. This was still not a realistic amount of time to make it to the next gate but then, I remembered the aforementioned situation from school and decided I would take my chance of catching my flight non-zero.
At 9:28, my baggage was checked in and the attendant said that most likely, my baggage wouldn’t be able to make it onto the plane in time. I said fine by me. Then she said most likely, I wouldn’t be able to make it onto the flight, either since it was already boarding and I was near gate D29 while flight was at gate D2 , on the other side of the universe.
I ran like crazy for 30 seconds before realizing that I would need to go through security again
Finally, at 9:32 I was through security and ran to catch a train to the other terminal. Flights generally close the gate 15 minutes before take-off, so I had just few minutes to get there. On the way I saw a Starbucks. My huge hunger and thirst started reasoning with me that I still had 2 minutes to spare but I decided not to take chances.
I managed to board the plane at 9:38, 16 minutes before take-off.
I got lucky but only because I decided not to give up. And when I arrived, I was rewarded with even more luck when I found that, against all odds, my luggage had made it, as well. Sometimes, you have to take a moment to appreciate how seemingly minor and unimportant events decades ago in our lives still have an impact on our current lives because they managed to change how we live.
Race against Time
When I was in my graduation, my mother used to nag me every now and then that, “why don’t you join a coaching? I am not asking you to appear this year or the next year, but atleast start reading, as you’ll take time to build your knowledge.”
Two years down the lane, I know that still there is a lot of time, but I sometimes think to myself that, I should’ve considered my mother’s nag/advice. Finally the quote ringing in my ears since childhood, ‘time and tide wait for none’, made sense!
Time passes my friends and regrets follow!
I didn’t realize at that time that, the earlier I start building my base the better it will be for me. I didn’t realize that, more time gives me the liberty to delve deeper into the topics which is very much required for my satisfaction. I didn’t realize that, a day spent productively will have compounded rewards in future than just lazing around aimlessly in the name of ‘my time to plunge into preparation will come!’
The point here is not to scare you, but to let you know that time is the most valuable asset that we have. You know that already, but most of us seem to forget it as life catches up!
Today you might be thinking that, oh! I wish I could’ve started my preparation earlier so that I could’ve covered so much more or I could’ve bought more time to practise answer-writing! This is absolutely true that everyone has their own time to start with their preparation, but, such is the relation between decision-making and time elapsed.
You cannot definitely haste in your preparation, but neither can you take time for granted. One must keep this in mind that, even if one has 5 years to prepare, they will pass like 1,2,3,4..5 GONE! Your loooong years of preparation just expired and now you are left with no more time. This is why, you must keep a parallel thought in your mind that with each passing day, one days gets strike off from your ‘days to prepare, days to work hard, days to make you career’!
If you live each day as it were your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right – Steve Jobs
Why do you think Steve Jobs would’ve lived by this quote as the mantra of his life? Because, he understood the gravity of the situation, when one day you’ll realize that you have no more time left to do all the things that you’ve always wanted to, all that you’ve ever wanted to achieve.
It is the attitude of ‘abhi to time hai’, that lay in you seeds of procrastination, stops you from giving your 100 percent when you sit for you preparation! It makes you watch the epic GOT episodes back-to-back-to-back! It makes you pile things up for that tomorrow which doesn’t come! It makes you get loose in your revisions which you badly regret when you hazily know the correct answer and end up being confused!
And then, there are opportunity costs involved in every decision you make subject to time. If you properly utilize the given time, maybe you wouldn’t have to slog your preparation for another year and you can do zillion other things that you missed in that year! You can get an answer to whether you should continue in this game or not and start working in some other avenues without wasting any further time! Trust me, nothing pierces the heart like the opportunity costs.
However preachy you may find this, but open your eyes to the limited time you have for this preparation, for this life. You needn’t pressurize yourself with the constraints of time. There is nothing wrong in chilling a bit every now and then. I do it, so do you and so does everybody, but it is important to develop a sense of urgency for things. Direct your time! Decide what you are gonna do in the time you have and not let it not be the other way round.
I’ve regretted not doing many things since my childhood (and I’m sure many of you too do), of which no matter how much I try to compensate; I cannot make time for it now! That is why I hope that you will acknowledge the time you have in your pocket and spend it judiciously in the most productive way you can. Be the charioteer in your life and tame the ever-so-swift horse called ‘time’!
“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet