“Do you support Chelsea or Man U?” The question was framed as though it was inevitable that I must be a fan of one of the two best football teams in the English Premier League. I had watched a documentary on the Manchester United during a recent flight so I told my new Kenyan friend that I was a Man U fan.
This encounter during one of my first evenings in Nairobi initiated a series of discoveries about football, or soccer as we call it in the US, that have culminated in the following observations about the 2014 World Cup. Many have written about the cultural and sociological reasons behind why Americans are so much less interested in the most popular sport throughout most of the world. I would like to discuss some of the reasons I think that we are becoming more interested in international football than ever.
While preparing for my last trip to East Africa, I reached out for advice from a man who cares for orphaned children living with AIDS in Uganda. Taking advantage of the time that he was living in San Diego while pursuing a Ph.D., we met up to discuss the water project that I was embarking upon in Kenya. After talking through a variety of approaches to the project, I will never forget the advice that he left me with. "Just do something."
Someone once told me that the older you get the faster time goes by. Every passing year seems to make this statement truer than ever. We often try to figure out how long ago something occurred and realizing that it was longer ago than we thought, we say, "Wow! Time flies, huh?"
The speed of time can often make us feel that our lives are out of our own control. Life doesn't seem to slow down long enough to let us exert intention and control over how we spend our time. This makes the future come so quick that we don't formulate a plan in time to handle it. It also makes the past seem so distant that we fail to reflect upon what has happened to us. Both planning and reflecting require intentional effort.
A few years ago my family came up with a bizarre idea for a New Years tradition. Each year one of us chooses a subject, we all build it out of Popsicle sticks and then burn it to the ground at midnight. The first few years we built the Eiffel Tower, a hot air balloon and a Trojan horse large enough for a child to sit on its back.
This year it was my turn to decide what we would build so I chose an old ship modeled after the Santa Maria. At first I worried that it would be too complicated but I shouldn't have doubted my family's creative talent. With my wife leading the charge we started to build the ship at around 10 AM on New Year's Eve. Using nothing but Popsicle sticks, hot glue guns and the occasional cutter to shape some of the sticks, we spent all the way up to midnight finishing our ship.
Back in the mid-90s, there was a band called East to West that sang a song that said, “I want to live like I'm leaving.” The idea in these lyrics has never left me. How different would our lives be if we lived as though we were leaving? Although the song referenced leaving this life for eternity, I have been thinking about living like I'm leaving the places that I take for granted now.
The reality is that we are leaving. We're leaving jobs, cities, friends, family and eventually this life. Wherever we are in our lives, it is only a matter of time before we will leave. We often act as though we have all the time in the world to enjoy places, try new adventures and express our love for the people in our lives. Living like we're leaving means making the most of the time that we have wherever we are at in life.