The Value of Time

Tony’s note: The following post was written by my close friend, amazingly talented tech reporter and about.me Advisor Om Malik as part of our Stories about.me project. Om survived a near fatal heart attack in 2007. Annually he raises money for heart disease-related projects at UCSF and we’d like for you to consider joining us in supporting his charity: Heart to Heart for UCSF Cardiology.

For 27 years I was a slave to cigarettes. I would plan my day around smoke breaks, avoid long flights because I knew I would need a fix, and seek out new apartments based on their “smoker friendliness.” I resented snide comments about my smoking habit, because I was not in control of the habit. The devil’s weed controlled how I lived.

My last cigarette was minutes before I walked into the emergency room seeking treatment for what would turn out to be a near-fatal heart condition with a long road to recovery. I think back on that moment with disgust. There I was being boxed around by the grim reaper and all I wanted to do was take one last drag on a cigarette. As I recovered in the hospital and gained some clarity, I knew I would never touch a cigarette or cigar again.

It has been almost six years since my heart attack and that last cigarette. I’m often asked how the entire experience changed me and what I learned from it. For the most part, I’m basically the same guy. I still notice the little things like the patina on a pair of boots, the lines on a bag, and the way green chilies are sprinkled on lentils. I still obsess over ideas and the act of turning them into words for hours before I actually do.

Om on stage

Certainly I’ve adopted better lifestyle habits, such as a nearly vegetarian diet, more exercise and cutting out alcohol and smoking. But the real change is in how I “do” life. One of the two promises I made to myself when I was released from the hospital was that I was going to stop trying to control everything. As life’s unpredictability showed me, the best you can do is control the inputs (or your own efforts). We cannot control the outcome. The other promise I made was to stop evaluating life by the moment and instead live in the moment. Or, as Mahatma Gandhi put it, “Live as if you would die tomorrow, learn as if you would live forever.”

The past six years have added up to what could be the best years of my life – for now. I have tried many new things. Some have been hard, some full of wonder, but none of them boring. So the next time someone says, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” you better believe it. Because it places a premium on what you have: time.

Please join us in supporting: Heart to Heart for UCSF Cardiology If you have a personal story to share with about.me, please follow this link: submit your writing.

 :  about.me, Stories

17 Responses to The Value of Time

  1. OM, I remember when you arrived at my house for X-mas Eve dinner and you were so sluggish. I didn’t understand why but it was so clear you were exhausted but even in that moment, you were giving. You’ve made a life of being that person who helps us all navigate to what is beautiful and important. The next day we left for Rajasthan and when we landed, I heard your news. We (the family that doesn’t really practice religion), went to a local temple near Devi Gahr and we prayed. It was both awkward and yet incredibly natural. I’m sure it didn’t help your recovery (after all, we didn’t have a lot of favors to call in) but it made us feel connected to you and that was what we wanted to give you. We looked into flights only to learn your condition was improving. We thought of you every day, multiple times each day. We were so thankful when it all worked out. You are one of the rare ones, thank you.

     
  2. Reblogged this on Tony Conrad and commented:
    The following post was written by my close friend, amazingly talented tech reporter and about.me Advisor Om Malik as part of our Stories about.me project. Om survived a near fatal hear attack in 2007. Annually he raises money for heart disease-related projects at UCSF and we’d like for you to consider joining us in supporting his charity: Heart to Heart for UCSF Cardiology.

     
  3. Om,

    You beautifully express so much here: enjoyment of life, living life through you versus by you, your innate appreciation of style and aesthetic. You also remind us all to follow in your footsteps of appreciating the moments and the people we share them with.

    Thank you.
    Jon

     
  4. Sometimes it takes those moments to make us jump into life. Congrats on 6 years.

     
  5. Ty for choosing to survive and empower, and for raising money for the University.

     
  6. Om, congratulations on continuing to take life by the horns and make the most of the precious time we all have on this earth by both stopping to smell the roses as well as planting your own. I’m thrilled to call you a friend and have also enjoyed working with you both before and after your life changing event. Look forward to many more good times ahead.

     
  7. Thank for your beautiful reminder to value your inputs and never loose focus on the little things. Values to live by for certain. It is your ride that matters–always. Here’s to many happy healthy years ahead.

     
  8. Reblogged this on Paul Marshall and commented:
    While I don’t know Om personally I know of Om and follow and read much of his work in the tech space. I have learned much from his journey and teachings…this is his most important lesson. Thanks for giving Om.

     
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  10. Tony- thanks for sharing

    Om –

    Enjoyed reading your perspective. Thanks for writing.

    It is this notion of control which has been something I too have struggled with for sometime. I came to a similar conclusion that so much of our stress is rooted in this urgent need to control the outcome of a situation – whether in business or in life.

    It took me…trying to control an Indian wedding (LOL) to realize that ‘life is an indian wedding…if we spend so much of our time trying to figure out the order in it all, we’ll miss the best time of our life.”

    Best wishes,
    Bob Miglani
    Author, Embrace the Chaos: How India Taught Me to Stop Overthinking and Start Living

     
  11. Thank you for sharing your story @om. It, like the rest of your writing flows with vivid bandwidth. I found you through your various outlets and the Flipboard app. With much thanks for the blessings that you bestow on us through your writings on tech, sartorial style and good reads. All the best to you Om.

     
  12. Nice.

     
  13. What a great message, living in the moment sounds easy, but is a very difficult habit for so many people to form. We spend so much time worried about what we can’t control. Thanks for the inspirational story.

     
  14. natepennington1 at

    Outstanding article Mr. Malik. My mother smoked for 12 years and just one day got up and quit. I commend you for what you have done for your life and for the fact that you have implemented an exercise routine into your training. If you ever need any advice on running/fitness let me know. Take care and continued success.

     
  15. Pingback: Mahatma Gandhi put it, “Live as if you would die tomorrow, learn as if you would live forever.” | DEFY ENNUI

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