Do not live away from the sea

Turki Aldakhil
Turki Aldakhil
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We all cry over the time that had passed before our eyes. Sometimes we sit on the couch or lie in bed without having a clue what we must do in this particular minute of this long hour in a short age.

During the past years of the 20th century and at the beginning of the current century, the term “average life expectancy” emerged. It’s an extremely important term which sometimes countries are categorized and evaluated based on since humanity have overcome the times of illnesses and diseases which doctors could not fight.

Due to sanitation, the city’s appetite to receive those coming from the outskirts increased. Thanks to mold, yes dear reader, thanks to mold, pharmacologist and botanist Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic substance in 1928. His genius discovery is what doubled our average life expectancy today.

Since the accumulation of knowledge is an effort that the likes of Fleming start in their small laboratories so they later become a collective gain to all humans, the average life expectancy by 2030 will exceed 90 years in many advanced countries.

I do not envy anyone for the number of years they will live. However, like others who read this piece of information about the average life expectancy reaching 90 years in The Lancet, I wonder what can be done with 90 years on this earth?

In all cases, everyone agrees that increase in the average life expectancy requires preparation and planning on all levels beginning with countries’ and international organizations’ unified efforts to provide the basic essentials of a decent living for every individual on earth.

I will not add anything more to what Majid Ezzati, the leader of the research team which reached the abovementioned conclusion and the professor at the School of Public Health in Imperial College in London, said when he noted that: “The fact that we will continue to live longer means we need to think about strengthening the health and social care systems to support an ageing population with multiple health needs.”

I am more interested in the hours which one spends alone and doing nothing after all the essentials of a decent life have been provided to him. I mean the leisure hours which pass quickly like summer’s rain. How do you accumulate the minutes and seconds to make time in your favor, even in your free time. Let’s directly say I am wondering: What are the hobbies which prolong man’s age and benefit him and those around him the most, my dear who is enjoying the summer vacation and the Eid holiday these days?

We all have our free time and these leisure hours are a pleasure, if deserved. Businessmen, politicians and frequent travelers must leave this free hour as it is in their schedules. Yes, a free hour for an accomplished man has its own way of being an added record that gives his other hours the advantage of defining a work hour.

The majority, however, does not enjoy this characteristic – i.e. the characteristic of having the free hour a purpose on its own. So how can I and you get ourselves used to uncostly hobbies that become a habit with days and which add flavor to these long hours of a short life, even if it extends to 90 years, as Ezzati and his colleagues concluded in their research?

I know that what I will say has been repeatedly stated like cold advice, and I swear that I begin this with first advising myself, but the answer is reading, my dear. Nothing can match getting used to reading in free time.

Reading has another characteristic as it elevates the value of time spent while reading. With time, it’s no longer a burden but a beautiful escape from everything, to a habit that makes everything after it different. Reading an old book makes you travel in time and sit with wise men. Reading biographies helps you imagine great men’s lives. Reading a novel that you’ve postponed reading for a long journey helps you travel to two places while you’re still on your seat.

We all cry over the time that had passed before our eyes. Sometimes we sit on the couch or lie in bed without having a clue what we must do in this particular minute of this long hour in a short age.

Turki Aldakhil

Choose a form of sports to practice without watching it. Take your children to the park to walk. Escape from the summer sun to the beach or to a close resort and if you can, don’t ever live away from the sea. If you don’t swim, you can walk by it. Both sports are very useful. Add to that the virtue of patience which no one learns like the fisherman who casts his net in the waters while he clears his head from life’s pending issues and work troubles.

Try the obsession of collecting and possessing. I have a friend who spends three hours every week tracing rare currencies. I have another who last year traveled to Egypt to possess a 70-year-old stamp. All this began with a small obsession, then became a way of life.

American celebrity Tom Hanks spends his free time collecting typewriters, and he’s had this habit since 1978. He said he is a typewriter enthusiast because he loves its sound and the feeling of writing.

Warren Buffett, a business magnate who is close to 90 years old, loves to play the small guitar in his free time. This is his announced hobby. His close friend Bill Gates, one of Microsoft founders and one of the world’s richest men, spends his free time playing Bridge, and he also plays Tennis.

Meryl Streep loves knitting, and knitting like fishing is a hobby that spins time while one clears his mind. Reading, sports, meeting new people in groups of those obsessed with collecting, traveling, contemplating and listening to music will make your free time fruitful so they become a beautiful habit without the burden of forcefully looking at the slow clock of time in a short age. In all cases, try not to live away from the sea!

This article is also available in Arabic.


Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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