Don’t Delay, Delay Is Death

This is part 2 of the Don’t Delay axiom; part I was related to work…delay is loss. This post is not meant to be morbid, not at all. But it is intended to be an Axiom about life.


My dad was a good guy, well-liked, responsible. He was a WW II Vet, and like much of his generation he had a desire for security, was bound by a sense of responsibility, and was shaped by going off to war early in life when he should have been making a beginning in college.

Dad worked for the same company for 43 years. He was loyal to that company, successful there, and when things in his life were not exactly as he would have liked, he “toughed it out”, just like he did in 1943 in Italy as part of the 15th Air Force (Air Corps back then, I think).

It was not unusual for his generation to have certain hopes, desires and dreams delayed; first by the need to go to war instead of school, then by the need to wait for discharge until the war turned in the Allied’s favor. It’s understandable, then, how the idea that you needed to reach retirement at the age of 65 before you  could “really enjoy life” and “do the things that you love”  became the experience.

So, at 60 years old, my dad decided to “retire early”. He told his bosses and they responded with an offer he “could not refuse”. They told him he was needed for 2 more years. Yes, they offered more money and a promotion, but I really think it was the idea that he had a sense of duty which caused my father to delay once more.

He stayed 2 more years and then at 62 he retired. He absolutely loved being retired.

He died shortly before his 65th birthday, less than 3 years later.

“Life is short, but the days and nights are long”

Cheryl Wheeler

It is easy, too easy, for us to delay the things in our lives that are meaningful and important. It can be from fear, fear of failure, a sense of duty, ridicule or the disapproval of others. So we say to ourselves, “someday”.

For me the experience of watching my dad delay and then have so short a time was a major impact on my choices. He was not bitter, and I am not critical, but I became determined to not delay if at all possible. I became committed to not digging deep debt, not tying a sense of who I was to titles or jobs.

I committed myself to understanding, learning, and to doing what I loved; what tied me closer to loved ones, and to building memories, not monuments.

I have been impressed by a quote that I’ve come across a number of times in different readings I’ve found or even in various locations I have been at. I don’t know the whole history of this quote for sure, but there is tremendous insight in it.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.”

W. H. Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition

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