After one stressful project meeting back in the university, I had a casual conversation with our project group leader, Ahmad. For a reason I don’t remember, our talk revolved around waste management.
According to him, he had had his internship in an oil company and made an interesting observation while at it. He had observed that their waste gases were always burnt away into the air in a process called flaring and was not very comfortable to see that.
This happens at most oil refineries. When you see a large flame burning continuously on top of a very high column, you have seen flaring taking place.Now, my friend’s worry was why the flammable gases were burnt away when they could have been used as useful energy in another process. I was intrigued by his comment, because the fact that the gases can burn means they contain energy that can be tapped and not wasted.
See? That was a brilliant idea! One problem though: to tap that energy, you would need to build another set of expensive equipment, which will come with maintenance cost, new personnel to control it, etc. At the end of the day, the yield from tapping energy from those gases was going to be insignificant compared to the cost involved in building and managing the equipment.
It wouldn’t be worth it. That’s why the gases are burnt off in the process called flaring. After we parted ways that afternoon, our conversation kept loitering in my mind. It made me realize that sometimes in life, we have to sacrifice things that still have some worth for other important ones.
For example, many of us hook on to certain habits and deeds that bring some satisfaction. Such activities might be enjoyable for some time. They might truly help you forget about your troubles for a while. But then, it is not just what we will gain immediately that we must consider before indulging in activities, but the future consequences and the spiritual implications as well.
It could be movies, football, parties, sitting idle, romance novels, sleeping, taking alcohol, excessive social media usage or what have you. Be sincere to yourself. How much do the things you do contribute to your life? In the long run, are you shortchanging yourself or making significant returns?
Once they are not worth it, you must painstakingly flare them off like waste gases. Get rid of them; not because they aren’t nice or enjoyable, but because the value they bring isn’t worth spending your life on.
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