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The Works

Time – speeding up or slowing down?

Time, ancient and fleeting.

You’ve got time

I’ve been away teaching for a week at the Modern Elder Academy, a movement for people in mid-life to realize that this isn’t the end but just the beginning of good things.

I was a student as well as a teacher. One thing I learned was that 54 works as the midpoint of your adult life. 36 years ago, you were 18 and starting the whole adulting thing; in 36 years time, you’ll be 90 and close to being done with the whole game.

The campus is in Baja California, which confusingly is not in California at all, but is a state of Mexico. It’s the top part of that long peninsula that stretched down the West Coast like a pinkie finger.

That landscape is sparse. Shrub, cacti, hills, and long, beautiful, desolate, beaches.

Most evenings, I went for a walk on the beach and became fascinated with taking photos of the surf and the stars. I love that there’s light billions of years old present with the transience of a wave forming and dissolving.

I’ve got time. You do, too.

In between the waves and the stars, there were 16 “modern elders” figuring out what to do with their one wild and precious life. And because you teach what you need to learn, I was there doing exactly the same.

The details of who decided to do what don’t matter so much.

What really matters is that, if you want it, there’s adventure ahead,

In my time, I’ve called it many things: Great Work, a Worthy Goal, Something that Matters, A Next Big Thing. (I’ll probably come up with some other labels before I’m done.)

No matter which one rings most true to you, they all have at their heart: thrilling (lights you up), important (adds to the world), and daunting (takes you to your edge).

When you say Yes to adventure, you somehow get a different grip on time. You speed up out of the doldrums. You slow down the frantic-ness of life.

Time and purpose become aligned.

Know that you’ve got time.

(And know that if the time feels like it could be now – or near – and you’d like some help, I’m here.)

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Michael Bungay Stanier

Michael Bungay Stanier

I'm the author of five books that have collectively sold more than a million copies. I'm the founder of Box of Crayons, a learning and development company that helps organizations move from advice-driven to curiosity-led. I'm the host of the *2 Pages with MBS* podcast.