The gift of normality …

Let’s appreciate what we have while we’re still in time!

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

Sometimes life feels like a train journey passing in-front of us. One which is difficult to control and restrain. Not because we do not have it, but because we have relinquished it. Mainly due to our obligations, our commitments and a million other things that chain us to the every day routine.

But somehow we get accustomed to it and we play by the rules of the game. We wake up early in the morning, prepare the kids for school, rush to work (and grumbling about traffic), kill ourself with day-to-day problems whilst constantly being interrupted by a million-and-one notifications and finally get home exhausted trying to find some time for your loved ones. Wow, does not sound very inspiring does it?

And this was just the macro perspective. Let us ponder a little on the micro parts. What about our health? A fast life makes one forget about it, especially when you are still young. What could happen? Until it actually does and most probably it is too late! Our cognition of time seems frozen a few decades back, we still think we are in our 20s, until one day we are confronted with a reality check and we realise our true age. How much time did we spend with people who are only there because they need something from us (not always something legit) and who can easily be relegated to the “waste of time” pool of people. How many people are more interested in the position you hold than in who you really are? As if a label magically turns you into something different. And yet, we give these people our most precious and most rare resource, our time.

This is really ironic when you consider that at home, you probably have a partner or some tiny being who is longing for you, asking you when you will get home and looking forward to squash you with their arms in an endless hug of pure love. Not because they want something from you or because they are impressed with the title you managed to get behind your name, but simply because they genuinely love you. However, the train of life seems to distract us. For us, this is normality and we live on it as if there is no tomorrow.

The railway station …

Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

One day, the train reached a halt. We received news that a close family member got diagnosed with cancer. That was the day when “normality” got placed on the back burner and one starts to wondering about life and the meaning behind it.

You ask yourself about how you ever got here in this journey of life. What have you missed whilst riding this train? Why did you ever go on this journey in the first place? Practically you start reevaluating your life.

But maybe most important of all, you start seeing life in a new perspective and under a new light. Even just holding a loved one (in a maybe uncomfortable position) makes the moment priceless. Let me explain why.

Photo by Johny Goerend on Unsplash

First of all, we all know from Physics that time and space are intertwined. Let us start by understanding space. The observable universe is around 93 billion light-years in size. It is called “the observable universe” because that is only the tiny fraction of the universe which we can see with our machines, so in essence, there is much more than that. To summarise this in lay terms, it is a lot of space!

Let us just think for a second about time. Imagine time as a straight line. This huge line which has no beginning and no end (or at least we cannot see them). And on this huge line, there is this one moment. When you are reading this. Now time is a strange dimension. Whereas space is a dimension which we can revisit, over and over again, time can only be visited once and the second which just passed is lost forever (unless of course you have a time machine).

Now back to my loved ones. When I am hugging them or sharing a moment with them, even if it is a mundane one, that moment is an incredible moment for two reasons. First because from all the places in this vast universe, my loved ones are here with me and secondly because this point in time will never come back. So unless I savour it now, it will be lost forever.

Boarding the train …

Photo by Denis Chick on Unsplash

This brought a new outlook to my life. I knew that the reality check would also bring with it countless visits to hospital, huge discomfort for my loved ones and worst of all, a heavy toll on their health. But I guess that this is part of the new normality.

Before, I used to long to get back on the fast train. Probably because it was the only journey i have ever been on. Today, I decided to take a different train, one which is much slower. One which allows me to look out and enjoy the view. One which allows me to enjoy the company of my loved ones who are joining me on my journey. Even though the journey is currently leading us through a storm, I am sure that we will get through it together.

This does not mean that in the coming years, I will not stop at other train stations. Far from it, I am sure there will be some more. But now I have understood that it is more important to savour the journey, than waiting for the destination to arrive.

This article is not meant as a self guide or anything of the sort. I am not a life coach or one of those gurus trying to tell anyone how to live their life. I just got inspired and decided to share my thoughts. I would like to dedicate this article to a 3 year old boy who was recovered in intensive care a few days ago because of a heart failure. My heart goes out to that family and to other families undergoing such a pain. May the arrival of the saviour protect these little angels in this holy period of Christmas. Please keep them in your prayers.

Professor of #AI at @uniofmalta, @AIMalta, Co-organiser at #GDGMalta

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