“Time is the fire in which we burn” —poet Delmore Schwartz
Tic-toc, tic-toc. Stop wasting your most precious resource—your life!
Let’s talk about time and your relationship with it. Most of us really don’t perceive time in its proper context. It is an asset that becomes more valuable each passing day, but in the end is eventually worth nothing, because on a long enough timeline, the life expectancy of everyone falls to zero.
It’s a scary thought, the prospect that someday we won’t be around anymore is part of the reason most of us don’t like to think about it. In order to be more successful in life we must be vigilant in our use of time and how we spend it. There isn’t a reset button or “do over.” Ask any of the childless couples out there who thought they could put things off and subsequently spent all of their nest egg on IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatments. Hollywood women are famous for this—posting pictures of their “having it all” families, but conveniently omitting that they used a surrogate that cost a small fortune and had to resort to donor eggs, donor sperm, or both. The botox, the fillers, the surgery—they can all help you look more youthful, but they can’t actually restore your youth, can they?
Tic-toc, tic-toc. If something is important, make the time.
I sat around the fireplace this past winter with an old man of 95 who has had a life that is full beyond most people’s dreams. He spoke about the famous people he had known through the decades and the adventures he had experienced. I admittedly became a bit jealous of his ability to grasp early on in his life a clear perspective on what is important in life and so avoid falling into today’s all too common “rushing to go nowhere culture,” as he calls it. You see, it isn’t his immense wealth that he cherishes the most, but the wonderful moments he has enjoyed and still enjoys with family and friends (the fact that his wife is 40 years younger helps too!). His days are full of purpose, meaning, and reaping the rewards of relationships he’s invested in over the course of many decades.
I went to visit with him again last spring and despite his advanced age and fortune, he was driving an old hay bailer in the hot sun, oblivious to the fact that “people his age” aren’t supposed to do those sorts of things. I saved a picture on my phone of him under the hay bailer repairing it to remind myself that how we spend our time really shows where our priorities are. No video games, no junk TV, no mindless and unfulfilling relationships—no, he values the time he has left, and you should, too, no matter your age.
Tic-toc, tic-toc. Everyone is out to steal your time. Don’t let them.
Magazines are filled with lies like “50 is the new 40,” making us think we have more time than we do. Today’s disease of electronic fake social media relationships and impersonal text messaging give many of us the feeling that we are doing productive things when, in fact, we are just wasting our lives away. Why plant a real garden when there is Farmville? Nothing like working on a fake farm and growing electronic food that removes us from the beauty of the real world around us.
I can’t put a dollar value on those wonderful family times. Many would pay a king’s ransom to go back and spend a day with a loved one who has passed. If you could, would you be checking your email or posting status updates? Would you spend that special day with your deceased grandmother watching the Kardashians? Those father-and-son trips which memories are made from don’t mean much if you’re not focused and living in the moment. Your life is precious and fleeting. You can always make more money, but time is finite. A quiet walk on the beach in the early morning, watching your child open their Christmas presents, enjoying a cup of coffee or a cold beer with a good friend—these moments are yours for the making and the taking. These moments are how you’re remembered. These moments define your life.
Tic-toc, tic-toc. My time and your time will soon be up. Why are you wasting it reading this? Get out there and live, dammit!