People-Now vs People-Later

It was raining like a pissing cow that late Tuesday night. 

I just came back from seeing a doctor. Wet to the bone, I slammed the front door and threw my squishy shoes away.

My legs were sore. A long interval run that morning started to strike back. 

As I crawled to my desk, I felt this warm tiredness filling in my limbs. The one you get before a good night’s sleep.

“I’ll check email and then drift off.”

When I opened my inbox, I saw two meeting requests. Both from friends I haven’t heard of in a while. 

I opened the first one. Hit reply and started typing. 

“I’d be happy to meet! Does next Monday at 8 pm work?”

Click. Sent.

But then I saw the second email. 

A friend wanted to jump on a call. No precise agenda. No details.

But I felt an irresistible urge to do it right then and there. Despite my sore legs. Despite my habit of scheduling meetings in advance so that I don’t get distracted during the day. 

It just felt right.

Thirty seconds later, we were on Zoom.

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The next morning, I sat down to analyze what happened. 

There was something different between those two meetings. Something I couldn’t grasp.

But I knew it was important and I had to figure it out.

So I ran a test.

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For the next two weeks, I only met with “people-now.” 

That’s how I called them. The people who I am happy to meet anywhere and anytime. Happy. That’s the right word. 

By the end of week two, it started to slowly dawn on me.

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Here’s how you can think about time. 

You’ve probably got a dream. A big one. To make a billion bucks, raise a kid, or have a family.

And every single dream is unique. Like a snowflake. But just like all snowflakes come from water; all big dreams come from the time that you put in. You pay for them with years of your life.

Now, I want you to travel in time with me. 

Imagine yourself in the future. You’ve worked your fingers to the bone for ten years to get to this place. And you’ve earned your dream. It’s right there, in front of you.

But then your dream starts bleeding. The first drops of blood fall on the floor in screaming silence. Plop. Plop.

That’s you in the present wasting time on bullshit meetings. 

You suffocate your dream until it loses so much blood that you can’t help but let it go. That’s when people realize they’ve wasted their time. That they killed their own dreams.

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Two more weeks passed.

I’ve come to realize how non-linear time actually is. And how slow it can feel I watch it closely.

It’s like a sunset on a warm summer night. When you look at it, the time freezes. You don’t notice the sun coming down and the sky slowly fading out to black. It’s a perfect moment. But then you get distracted. You look away for a minute and start doing something else. And when you glance back, you realize that you’ve missed everything. 

Don’t look away. 

People-later take your time from doing something meaningful with your life. Society wants you to follow its rules. To be polite to everybody. But each time you conform to this dogma, you make a small cut to your dream.

Don’t make cuts.

Have more people-now in your life. Don’t schedule. Be open to good randomness that comes from good people. Because real friends are always people-now to each other.

If you’re reading this, your sun is still up there. You’ve got time. You can do what you want. But don’t suffocate your dreams.