What is the most important thing in life?


View from Stella Point

I was flipping through Twitter like I do when I’m trying to kill Time reading the headlines when I came across a provocative question tweeted out that stopped me…mid-swipe…“What’s the most important thing in life?”  Well that’s a hell of a question…


Let that one sink in for a couple seconds…

If you actually stopped speed reading and give it some thought before going on to the next tweet…it’s certainly a hell of a question.  As I’m sitting here staring at the computer screen I still have no idea how I would answer this fundamental question, but I’m hoping by the end of whatever I’m writing I have figured something out.  If you think about it, shouldn’t everything we do be determined by how we answer that question?  Yet I still don’t know how to immediately answer it.   Is that a problem?  Can most people answer this question without much thought?  Can you?  I have no idea what the most important thing in life is and evidently I haven’t given it enough thought, so now is as good a time as any to figure it out.


I’ve said things like, “you’re the most important thing in the world to me” or “I love you more than anything in the world” and even though I meant every word, are the targets of these comments the answer to this monumental question?  If not, were those statements accurate?  Do I know what the most important “thing” in life is?  The question sounds like it should be answered with something specific, like a person or perhaps an object, but I I think the answer lies in something much greater than that.  My initial inclination is to name someone or something specific but as I give this more thought I’m convinced there’s something far bigger I should be considering.


For me the obvious answer to this galactic question is Family.  I’m sure you’re probably wondering why it took me so long to come up with an answer that would surely be at the top of many peoples list.  But hold on….are you ready for this…I don’t think it’s Family.  It’s clear that Family is the most important thing in the world to me.  However shouldn’t the most important thing in Life be all encompassing?  It should be something that includes a very specific list of well deserving people, like Family, Friends, etc.   It must be far more universal than something tangible like a person.  Even if it’s your kids or spouse.   My family is the most important thing to me in the world but is it the most important thing in Life?  They are different.  The most important thing in Life must be something that dicates how I serve and love my family.  How I raise my children and love my wife.  It must be an attitude or philosophy…right?


I took a short break to think about it…and all I could come up with is…”I don’t know.”

At this point the only revelation that I’ve come up with is the fact that this question is much more complicated than I thought.  When I read it on Twitter I realized I couldn’t answer it right away but I didn’t realize that I was so far from an answer.  If you think about how fundamental this question should be in how we live our lives, shouldn’t we have an answer.  Something prepared just in case someone on Twitter asks us.  I know my favorite color, my favorite movie and where I want my family to vacation next, but I can’t without much deliberation answer, “what is the most important thing in life?”


Maybe the key to answering this question is taking another approach.  I won’t tackle it head on.  I think I have a good idea of what my Legacy is going to be.  It’s going to be my kids.  It’s going to be how I help shape them to make a positive impact on the world.  That almost sounds like it should be the most important thing in the life, but again it can’t be.  It’s not big enough.  It’s not all encompassing.  What about my wife?  Or my parents?  How can I include one and not the other…I knew it…it must be a higher order.  I know what you’re thinking…this next part is about God.  You’re right, just not the “take” you probably expect.


God is always an interesting and deeply personal topic of discussion.  After all, almost every war in the past 2000 years has been fought over this subject.  Consequently I’m always hesitant to take a position involving God because many people hold on to their faith so tightly they find it unacceptable to have a different perspective on how to worship or what you call your God.  I only say that because I see the lines blurring as a write about what the most important thing in Life is.  Again, Wars, so I need to pick my words carefully.


Before moving on there is one more thought I had about the religous wars fought all over the world for thousands of years, each side is convinced God is aligned with their beliefs.  If killing in Gods name is somehow ok with your faith…answering questions like…What is the most important thing in life?…should be way down your “to do list.”  Please take a step back, stop going to whatever church or symbol of faith you worship and think about how you’re using the gift of life.  I’m not saying somehow this “sidebar discussion” is going to help us answer our question but maybe we can find clarity around some other very important topics along the way.


Ok, is it God?   Nope.  It can’t be.  I’m sure initially this doesn’t make sense to most people that believe nothing is above their God.  God created everything therefore by default, or in expression of our gratitude, the answer to our question must be God.  However, I think God can’t be included in this debate because God is the “host” for Life and by default can’t be included.  In my humble Christistan opinion, God wouldn’t want to be either.  God doesn’t demand thanks.  We give it to him becuase it’s the polite thing to do.  Someone truly generous doesn’t give to receive equal or better accolades in return.  Thanks are given because it’s the recognition of generousity.  It’s not the act of regifting.  Christian biblical reference alert…if Jesus gave his life for us and we thought we must return the favor we wouldn’t get very far in life, nor would the gift of life.  If that were the case it wouldn’t be a gift and the giver certainly wouldn’t be acting generous.  God wants us to use life in whatever capacity it is given and give thanks without the expectation that we spend our entire lives thanking God for the generous gift.  Life is about enjoying the gift but respect it and don’t ever use it to keep others from enjoying their gift.    It’s a gift for a reason and the thanks is in using it wisely and someday giving it to others like family and friends in how you treat them on a daily basis.  I’ve thought about this one before and as a Christian I believe my God wants me to serve by living a good life and leaving a positive legacy with the gift that we all enjoy.  God doesn’t want us thanking him every second of every day.  Our thanks lie in our actions therefore God can’t be the answer either.


So if it’s not God or Family what could it be?  I think I have it…..


It’s about how we use every second of every day.  I don’t mean that everyone one of them are perfectly used, quite the opposite.  But if I live every day knowing the most important thing in life is TIME, I hope I don’t waste too much of it.  There it is…it’s TIME!  And hopefully we get enough of it to sometimes take it for granted.  However some people don’t get much of it and others need help using it.  Those that don’t utilize time independently need help from others to realize how valuable and precious time is.  Helping someone use the time they have or make the most of the time they get only helps everyone around them realize that Time is the most important thing in life and it can’t be wasted and you don’t get it back.


Now that I think I know what the most important thing in life is, it’s very easy to look back and see how obvious that answer should have been to come up with.  The answer was always there.  Every time life was created or I lost someone, old or young, I was reminded that Time is the most important thing in life.  Again, it’s not about how much of it you’re given, it’s about how you use it.  When a person passes we celebrate the gift of life and the Time granted on this earth.  Maybe I should go to more funerals.  Every time I go to one I think about my own mortality and the Time I’ve used on earth.  I ask myself questions that I’m sure we all ask ourselves every time we loose someone.  More or less those questions are pretty consistent.  But the one big take away from every funeral I’ve every attended is…how am I using my Time on earth?  Funerals remind us that time is limited and we all will run out of it someday.  Funerals are a great reminder to live life to the fullest and do everything you can with the Time you have to ensure someone shows up to celebrate the Time you had and the things you did with it.


It’s also worth noting that I don’t think the quantity of Time dictates happiness or a life well spent either.  I think it’s much more about how you use what you get and how you help others use their Time the best they can.  Then leave a legacy with those left behind that learned from your actions on earth.  Now that I know what the most important thing in life is, I hope I don’t waste too much of it.  I look forward to helping my sons use their Time and covet the gift they have.  To raise them to be better people by reminding others what the most important thing in life is.  Trust me, I wish more people reminded me.  I might use those extra minutes, that I have otherwise wasted, to love my family, friends and most importantly help others that need help using their Time.  It’s hard to help others cherish their Time when your conflicted to make the most out of your own Time, but I’ve learned that it’s not a contradiction or competitive proposition…it’s an opportunity to multitask with the most important thing in life.  Every minute I help someone like my son Madden enjoy his Time I get what feels like 2 minutes of my own.  That’s Time well spent.


If life was an engine TIME would be the fuel and if you only get one tank we would all make sure we knew exactly where we were going.  Time is Gods gift and it’s up to us to decide how we choose to use it.  Do we share it?  Do we invest it?  Do we make up for it when it’s wasted?  Do we help others?  There is no perfect way to use Time as long as it contains all the ingredients mentioned earlier with a dash of many other things to create the perfect recipe for life.


Please do me a favor…If you ever see me out and about, maybe a little lost, wandering with my beautiful wife and 3 boys, do me a favor and stop and give me some directions now that you know TIME is the Most Important Thing in Life.

—K. Rooney

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