Living life according to a rule given to me by father
If you were going to leave your house for ever and had to leave most things behind, what would you take?
I faced this tough decision when I left my home city of Irkutsk in Siberia to go to America. We had a huge library with countless books, large paintings, and antique furniture. As I stood and let my gaze wander around our home, the finality that I must leave it all behind sunk into me.
“What would be most important for me in a new country?”
I thought hard for a long time. Certainly, photos of people I love. They don’t occupy much space.
But, what else would be not only memorable, yet also heartfelt and meaningful? What would I look at that would recall something very important for me? I kept repeating this question and looking at all the things we acquire over the years. I wrestled with regret. Poignant waves swept over me.
“These are just things,” I reassured myself. “I will have other things, books and paintings and everything else.”
But deep down, I knew this was untrue. I was leaving. I would never live here again. These cherished things would soon be only memories.
I decided to take with me only one small painting. When my father was alive he loved this one the most. It is called Belated.
In a birch forest under the moon, a man carries a haystack on a horse-drawn cart. He had waited too long. The harvest season was past and the fodder for his cattle was piled high and crusted with snow. Much of the hay would be ruined. He should have done this weeks ago, but he was busy and an early storm now put his very survival at risk.
I distinctly remember how my father often stood in front of this painting and told me: “Nina, this could be me. I am often late and it has had serious consequences. I could have done my PhD thesis years earlier. I would have become a professor as a younger man. I would be far more established than I am now. This is just one thing but when I look at my life, I see that I postponed many things. Nina, never be late. Seize the moment. Just do it!”
I was very young but I felt his sorrow and the strong and bitter taste of regret.
What a simple, but incredibly important rule: “Just do it.”
At the very moment you feel it, call, write, support, help, hug someone who needs it. They need it now, not later.
When you apologise, do it immediately. You will forestall anger and resentment that might linger for years. Forgive sooner than later, and you will release the negative feelings you carry in your heart and soul.
How often do we decide we don’t have enough time for what is most important? We are always in a hurry, misplacing our priorities, forgetting that life is swiftly rushing by. When it turns out that we miss those opportunities, we say to ourselves with annoyance or in pain, “Oh, if only I did it then. What in the world prevented me?”
I started using “the rule of two minutes” and it helps me tremendously. If I can do something within two minutes, then I do it. Right then. No procrastinating. As my father said, “Just do it”.
It’s always a joy for me when I come to San Francisco to see my mom and daughter. I happily fly into my mother’s apartment, hug and kiss her, and then I go straight to that small, but important painting of the haystack covered in snow.
“I try so hard not to be late, Dad,” I say softly. “I always remember your lesson.”
• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her here: www.ninalondon.com