Time. It is life’s most valuable gift. Time is also priceless. You can spend it, but you can’t keep it. And once those seconds are lost, you can never get them back. We speak to seven individuals who went through life changing experiences to realise the value of the ticking seconds
What is time? Most of us started learning measurements of second, minute, hour, day and month at the age of four when we entered pre-school. We learn that the day changes at the stroke of midnight, and we learn that a year has passed with every birthday that we celebrate. Based on behavioural statistics, an average millennial will spend at least nine years of their average livelihood of 78 years on TV and social media. But is that all there is to it? We have learnt that time takes on different incarnations—it can be a healer, a friend or your worst enemy. Often, it takes a catastrophic moment to make us truly appreciate that time is something that once wasted, cannot be revisited.
“When I was told I had less than a year to live, it felt like I was given a death sentence. It felt like I was thrown into the deep sea in the middle of a storm. It was the wake-up call of the biggest magnitude—I am now terminally ill. But I firmly assured myself that absolutely no way was my time up. I refused to accept that I had no future and that I was dying. It was a deep realisation that while we are each given the same set of 365 days in a year, we are not promised all 365 days to live. So for me, each given day is a chance for me to put my best effort into ensuring I live up to my goals of self-improving.” – Mandy Lee
To understand the value of one year, we spoke to a beautiful young lady who was told she has less than a year to live. Mandy Lee was diagnosed with Primary Mediastinal B-Cell Lymphoma at the tender age of 23. For her, every moment matters, and she is determined to live everyday to the fullest. To realise the value of one month, we spoke to a mother who had her child a month too early. Premature babies, especially those born very early, often have medical complications that grazes the line between life or death. Adliza Mohd Hizan gave birth to her premature daughter after just a little more than six months of carrying her in her womb. Her daughter was born missing out on vital bodily developments, and struggled for her life in the NICU during her first month into the world. There were a series of heart-stopping spells where she stopped breathing. If only her pregnancy had lasted just another month longer, perhaps her child would not have had to go through so much pain.
“Just as I was approaching the sixth month of my pregnancy, my water spontaneously broke. I was adviced to let my daughter stay a little more longer inside of my womb to get however much growth she needed. That first month after her emergency birth was the most distressing for all of us, as she was very unstable. There were moments when she stopped breathing and even needed blood transfusions. I would give anything for my baby to have another month before she made her entrance into this world, as that additional month would mean she would not have had to go through the difficult struggles as a micro premature baby.” – Adliza Mohd Hizan
Not much can change for a person holding a desk job going through a mundane week, but in the fast-paced world where trends are constantly shifting, a lot can happen in a week for a person working in a digital news portal. To fully understand the importance of every single week given to us, we spoke to Marie Claire’s Editor, Azza Arif. Heading an international magazine that operates on both print and digital requires you to always be on your toes. There are never enough days in a week, and not enough weeks in a month. When a person devotes their entire time to work, there leaves no room for anything else.
Leading both print and digital, it becomes very challenging to really be on top of the game when it comes to new content and valuable materials. We always try to be on top of everything as best as we can, but there just never seems to be enough time to do so. I feel like I’m not present anymore because I’m always looking months and months ahead of time! I am constantly chasing time in order to adhere to the strict deadlines within a publication. If only I had one more week in a month!”- Azza Arif
Jerrica Leong can personally attest to the importance of one day, as she have not been able to top reliving the day she lost her father. She would have given anything for one more day with him. Perhaps if she had not gone in to work that day, she could have been able to see him before he passed; perhaps if she had one more day with him, she could tell him how much she loved him, and how much he meant to her—but in reality, we get no second chances. There is no rewind button. No ‘ifs’ or ‘perhaps’. Having the time, but not being able to spend it with your loved one can be tormenting to some. Nuha Anwar recalled the moment her father, politician Anwar Ibrahim, was sentenced to prison. She was only 13 years old, and was told she had less than an hour to see him per visit. She had to share the 45 minutes with the rest of the family, which made every single minute important.
“I can still remember that fateful day when my father passed away. I recall the moment we discovered that the machines hooked up to him to keep his vitals intact were not working properly, and the very moment that the doctors told me that there was nothing more they could do medically. I regretted not being around that day. I regretted not being able to spot the careless error by the hospital that had resulted in his death. I regretted not having had one more day with him. Regret is a painful reminder to never take things for granted. What would have happened if I had not gone to work that day? Perhaps I could have had one more day with my father.” – Jerrica Leong
“When I was 13, my father was sacked as the deputy prime minister and sent to prison with horrendous accusations. It was very painful to only be able to see him in that condition behind bars, with just one phone as the only contact between us, with only 45 minutes per visit. We have a very close relationship with my father, and it was so painful to not be able to update him about our daily experiences. Being able to only see him once a month, those 45 minutes were the most valuable to me.” – Nurul Nuha Anwar
One minute can mean a short wait at a traffic light but that same one minute can feel like hours when navigating through the rubbles of a fire to save another person’s life. For Martin Perez, that was how a minute felt to him the moment he dashed in to save a stranger from a sudden fire. Unfortunately, an explosion broke out shortly after, and he suffered third degree burns. If he had just one more minute, perhaps he would have been able to escape unharmed. For car racer Leona Chin, a split second is all she has to make quick decisions on overtakes while racing at top speeds of 200kph. In sports, a millisecond is crucial in determining who comes in 1st or 2nd.
“I was at a mall when I saw that a fire had broken out. I remember feeling very frustrated that nobody wanted to help, as most were just taking videos instead. Everything happened so fast the moment I made that decision to help save a life. It didn’t feel like only a minute has passed because to me, it felt like a long time. After pushing her to safety, an explosion occured and I suffered third degree burns on one side of my body. The months after the explosion were really hard on me, mentally, physically and financially. But, I pulled through with the help of close friends. I have no regrets about the decision I made on that crucial minute.” – Martin Perez
“In racing, everything happens very fast as we’re driving at top speeds of barely have a second to execute an overtake. From finding the right moment to out-brake my opponent, to determining an opening for me to squeeze through—it all happens under a second. If I had missed the precious second I would either lose a place, spin out, or crash into a wall. One simple mistake in motor racing can end with devastating results, so every second is very important for me to make the right decision at the right moment.” – Leona Chin
Bringing on a whole new meaning to the quote ‘time is precious’, these heartwarming stories and personal experiences highlight the importance of time and the raw emotional struggle that we go through as we try to keep up with the pace of the everyday.
Editor: Azza Arif
Writer: Jerrica Leong
Stylists: Azza Arif and Ezza Zainal
Photographer: Edmund Lee
Videographer: Ezza Zainal
Video assistant: Shafik Azam
Video Editor: Karen
Make up Artists: Nabeela Khan and Min
Hairstylist: Kay/ Centro Hair Salon