How a Nightmare Reset My Priorities (& What “Productivity” Really Is)

I died this morning.

And yet… I didn’t.

The last thing I remember was looking up in the sky and seeing three missiles coming through the clouds. They were like solid rocket boosters but much bigger. I knew they were ICBMs. Yes, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, the kind they use in Nuclear War. One headed high over me, one headed far to the south of me, and one came closer and closer.

The closest one was tumbling haphazardly in the sky and went behind some nearby trees. Then, a blinding flash. It’s hard to describe what I felt after that. It was like a warm rain or the feeling of a blow dryer against your skin. It was so quick, and then?


Well, not precisely. While I could perceive nothing around me, I could still feel me. I was still there, but my body had been wiped away.

I touched my left arm.

Wait a minute. How could I feel my arm if I’d been annihilated? I quickly realized it wasn’t a physical arm I was touching. This was my astral body’s arm. Some might call it my “energy body” or “light body”, but no matter what label you decide to place on it, I was grateful that I could feel that I still had some kind of substance, some energy. And in some instant later, I was in a place that felt perfectly peaceful and safe. In fact, it felt safer than “safe”, and I knew everything would be OK.

Before all this, I had been sitting at a picnic bench, staring at a strange tree. At the end of the branches were strange heads with large mouths like fish. One head started glowing, and instinctively I knew this was a bad thing. I tried to stop it with my mind, and that worked… but only at first. Then another one started glowing, and it would not relent.

And then I saw the missiles, and that’s about where we came in.

A Gift

If you haven’t gathered by now, the above experience happened to me in a dream recently; and, like most dreams, I thought it was perfectly real at the time. I experienced a brief pain, and thought that my time on this planet was over. After I died, appeared in the safe void that I described above. I had the impression that it was a temporary place like a waiting area and that soon others would come to meet me. I’m not sure why I didn’t see the typical white tunnel that is often described (perhaps because I wasn’t really dying), but while I was in this temporary waiting area, I started to do some serious reflection on my life.

Ever the optimist, I thought how it wasn’t so bad to be blown away by such a large missile. There was only a brief pain, and then it was very peaceful. I thought, “Certainly, there are worse ways to die, right?” And on this side of the mirror, I somehow knew that it was all working out for the highest good of all. I didn’t feel like I have to second guess myself like I did when I was alive.

All of this happened yesterday morning. After I woke up, I almost felt like I’d been given a second chance. I had received a taste of my own mortality, even if it was only an extremely mild taste.

I’ve thought about the dream on and off since then; and I realized that the dream has given me a newfound clarity on how I look at time itself. This dream was a beautiful gift, and one result was that I now have new insight on why being “productive” is so important to me.

The Idea of Being “Productive”

When I thought I had died, I did something that you would probably do, too. I thought about all of the things I would never have the chance to do, all of the places I’d never be able to see, and all of the incredible people who I would never be able to get to know. I thought about all of the things I still wanted to do, things like walking atop the massive glaciers in Iceland or photographing (and subsequently hugging) a massive Baobab tree in South Africa.

I thought about all of my opportunities lost.

Wouldn’t you?

The whole experience really drove home for me how scarce time is in our lives. And I realized that this is the single most profound reason why the idea of being productive is so important to me. Because it’s about wisdom. And the way the word “productivity” is used as a buzzword these days makes me concerned that its true meaning is going to get watered down. As a word, I’m starting to think it’s being overused, and that concerns me.


Because, at its most pure, “productivity” is just about being smart with your most finite resource: your time. That’s all. No bells and whistles. No palm trees are involved, and it certainly doesn’t take 4 hours to understand. Being a productive person just means making the stuff you want to make, completing the stuff you want to complete, and also having a life alongside that. (That third part is important.) Productivity is your ability to intelligently, and sanely, manage your time. It’s about balance. That’s all.

What would your life look like if you became twice as productive? Or, said in another way, what would the rest of your month look like if you actually got ahead of where you think you need to be? Would you have more time to travel? Is it possible that you would have more opportunities to experience the adventures that your heart longs for?

Honestly, you don’t have to be a ninja to become smart about this. And the smarter and more courageous you are about how you use your time, the better things can get. Remember, everyone gets 24 hours tomorrow, but not everyone has the same number of years left.

What would you do if you realized that you died yesterday, and this whole day you’ve been inside a dream?

Thankfully, that’s not the case… yet.
So, what are you going to do with the time you have left?