Do It While You’re Young

To everything there is a season,

and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate;

A time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There’s a time for everything.

But time, time seems so elusive. Is there a you for every time?

Opportunity cost is what you give up in order to gain something else - to cash in on an opportunity. Whatever you gave up… well, that is a sunk cost. Isn’t every day an opportunity? And every decision will result in at least one sunken cost. Perhaps that outlook is too grim to meditate on, but it seems inescapable.

Often, well-meaning adults will reflect on a decision a younger peer has made or is making and, with a smile, they will deliver the phrase, “That’s great. Do it while you’re young.” I once thought this to be a compliment. An ode to the brave. A confirmation that the path I had taken was less trodden, and I was admired because of it. Though, I’m not too sure now. The lines start to blur. The dirt all looks the same. I’m concerned.

Oh, you work too much? That’s good. Do it while you’re young.

Moving away? Better now when you don’t have bills to pay.

Taking two jobs, pushing what your body can do, burning the candle on both ends … do it while you can.

While you can.

In every way, we are counting down. You’ve only got a few good years to find someone to marry. You’ve only got so long before your career is set in stone. You’re only young once, please don’t over-exert yourself, but if you do, that would be great because now you can afford it and won’t affect you that much, but one day it will and that should terrify you, but don’t worry about it now! We are told that growing old is a constant breaking down and wearing out of all the parts we grew to love.

As if life was a journey you were meant to get right. As if there were steps to take and it would end in a perfect score. A test you could ace. A race you could win. There are means of living that are more appealing than other options, but if the end result is the only thing we’re searching for, then perhaps there need not be the formalities…

It’s not about the end result. It’s not about the "if this, then that" of growing older. Settle down when you want. Build a family that makes sense to you. Find a job that fits your schedule and the person you want to be. Pay the bills, but worry about them less. Take the trip whenever you feel like it, young or old. Have an idea? Try it out regardless of the impossibility of it. Understand the opportunities ahead of you, every day, and the consequent sunk costs you will give up to pursue whatever it is you choose.

Restore the power in the days you have left. Enjoy the easy wins, and revel in the hard-fought battles. Not every moment will be the picture of success. Growth should make us uncomfortable, but never immobile.

No matter the year, no matter where you are at… do it while you can, for as long as you can. More importantly, know that you can.