To any person of credibility, be it an amateur philosopher, a rising businessman, or one with a craft that they are honing, time is the obstacle that will bar their progress throughout their journey. Most people have a fear of losing the time that they have left in their lives, while few respect the nature of time. By coming to terms with time and how we can better spend it, we can approach the world from a more established position of focus and with the intent to use our time to the best of our abilities.
On the Nature of Time
Time is the only resource that is involuntarily spent and cannot be replenished (as far as we know). Life itself can be restored in our time through the miracles of modern medicine, where a man can be declared dead one moment and revived the next, but time remains out of reach from the meddling of man. With this in mind, instead of fighting the passing of time and fearing its eventual end, perhaps we should come to understand how we can best spend the time that is given to us.
Time is as majestic as it is unknowable. No one can tell you when your time will come to an end with absolute certainty, so each and every one of us is faced with our own mystery to contend with. It is our own responsibility to manage our time, yet we often find ourselves delegating that management to others, people often less qualified to manage anything remotely as significant as our time.
To fear the passing of time is to live outside reality. By acknowledging your complete lack of control over the driving force in your life while simultaneously realizing you can have more control that you think, you can begin to repair the relationship with the cosmic forces at work beyond your comprehension.
On Wasting Time
To begin managing your time efficiently, you must set your priorities. Your craft should be your top priority, or at least among the top priorities in your life. Consider for a moment all of the ways a person can waste time, and then reflect on how many people you know who actively throw away the gift of life they have been given. Think of all the people at this very moment who are:
- playing video games, from MMOs to modern consoles to outdated gaming machines
- watching Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Youtube, television
- browsing Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, Snapchat, 4chan
- smoking, drinking, doing drugs
- sitting in a classroom they don’t want to be in, doing homework
- working at a menial, unsatisfying job
- in prison
If we were to conduct a survey of all of the people worldwide partaking in those activities right now, it would be in the hundreds of millions. This is who you will be competing against. With a basic understanding and respect for the nature of time, you will quickly put yourself ahead of hundreds of millions in regards to being productive. That’s not to say that these activities can’t provide some merit, only that they should be taken in extreme moderation.
On Being Idle
Moderation is the key principle to consider when managing your time. Each of the activities listed above have positive and negative traits. Doing homework can instill a rigorous work ethic, but you were not placed on this earth to follow instructions and complete work that does not apply to everyday living. Playing video games while listening to an informative podcast can provide an outlet for relaxation while still remaining engaged, but it absorbs you to the point of doing nothing else.
I would argue that it is healthy to have one activity that constituents as a time waster, in that it provides no clear tangible product from your time investment. Every person in our history has had such an activity, from the ancient hermits of China like Tao Yuanming
who idly strolled through the countryside to Albert Einstein’s hiking trips.
On the Afterlife
Some may believe in a second life, some may believe in an eternal void, I would hope that all can reconcile the fact that this life is limited by time. If there is a heaven or some form of reincarnation, it still does not change that I only have so much time to do what I desire in this life, in this form. I have found two extremes in both parties, neither of which are comforting.
Some that believe in life beyond death are nonchalant in their time expenditures, often with a carefree expression and a reliance on their belief of unlimited time beyond the grave. This is as dangerous as it is sad, as no promise of salvation can erase the overwhelming sense of guilt of a life wasted.
The other extreme that some express is the futility of concerning oneself over time. Some that don’t believe in an afterlife take a cynical approach, that nothing matters because after death, there is nothing. This nihilistic thinking leads to self-destructive tendencies that can often be more harmful that the previously described naivety.
I do not follow an organized religion, and I don’t see myself ever following one, but I do consider myself to be very spiritual. Whether there is an afterlife or not, a form of afterlife is present in our world. The works of men and women long dead, from literature to architecture to songs, exist on this plane of existence after the creators have long since perished. A legacy can be created beyond flesh and blood that persists through the ages, withstanding the onslaught of time.
On Time Long Lost
Reflecting on all the time that has been wasted in one’s life is a powerful, anger-invoking experience. Try to be understanding with yourself and realize that those wasteful activities led you to where you are now. Perhaps you learned something from that video game or movie, or your creativity was unleashed from that museum you visited. No activity is ever a true waste of time because it provides another moment of sentience, but some activities are more useful than others. By realizing this, you can still partake in the lesser activities in moderation so that you may find true value in those that provide you with fulfillment. Soon you may see no need for the lesser activities, and will have reached a milestone in your life as you climb towards your apex.
With your goals in mind, you must embark on your journey of self-improvement. There is no room for half-measures here, as they are more dangerous than simply having no full-measures. Think of the obese woman who rides a bicycle to where she needs to be: she will use that small amount of exercise to justify her poor diet throughout the day, negating any benefits she may have reaped from her brief bout of activeness. This is a half-measure, and she would have been better off not riding the bicycle so that her poor diet negatively impacts her on a greater scale, either prompting her to take a full-measured response or to wallow in her self-pity, sparing us all the sight of her on a bicycle.
Once you see the fruits of your labor, you will become addicted to the pursuit of productivity. The most important part is to prepare for the plateau that every striving person reaches and to be able to push through this lapse in growth. This is arguably the toughest stage, and can be best overcome through moderation in productivity. Yes, easing off the pedal and reflecting and regrouping yourself to prepare for the next push. This sense of moderation should apply to everything in life to create a harmonious balance. It is a delicate balance indeed, as you can easily slip back into the time-wasting habits of yesterday, but you do not want to burn yourself out over the pursuit of your dreams.