There comes a day in our lives, after we climax at fifty, when we start pondering about time and what it means. Is it that time is running out or is it that we are running out of time? At that age we start repeating that life is short and time flies, tempus fugit.
Nobody around me seems to have time, enough time, to do all they want or need to do. They are busy, busy. I find that funny because we all have the same amount of it daily, weekly, yearly. And time is the most democratic of all our assets: everybody has the same amount, the rich, the poor, the tall, the short… on a daily basis, that is: 24 hours a day, which equals 1,440 minutes. Not bad.
Yet, as William Penn tells us in his Some Fruits of Solitude, 1682: “There is nothing of which we are apt to be so lavish as of Time, and about which we ought to be more solicitous; since without it we can do nothing in this World. Time is what we want most, but what, alas! we use worst.” Time is what we use worst, as if we had an endless trove of it somewhere. We lavish it, waste it, give it away, squander it, kill it… as if we could kill time without injuring eternity, as Thoreau would put it.
Traffic and time are the scapegoats of our modern life. We tend to blame both for our lack of seriousness towards life, towards others and towards ourselves.
If life expectancy in 2014 is 80 years, and you are 60, you have 20 years left according to statistics. True: you may be hit by a car tomorrow morning and go the way of all flesh, but you may also live to be 90 in which case you still have 30 years to go. But we do not know. The uncertainty is always there… except that if you are 60 you cannot take out a forty-year mortgage. A 25-year-old could. There is the rub.
Also Read: What really matters in midlife. thriving
The uncertainty of how long we may or can live keeps people in a fool’s paradise. As we do not know, we squander time as if we were going to live forever. We are constantly warned to seize the day (Carpe Diem), to live today to the fullest, to be happy, to worry not, to enjoy… But we pay no heed and keep killing time, running hither and thither like chickens with our heads cut off.
After 50 we become more serious about time because we intuit somehow that we have less left to waste and that it is running short. We are ignorant about the exact number of years we have at hand, but we have fewer, for sure. What can we do about it? My answer is: go on a tight budget.
Going on a tight time-budget is like going on a tight money-budget. Here are eight things you can do to stop wasting time.
- Stop diddling with time-suckers, time vampires, leeches who bleed hours from your time-deposit. Even if you risk being impolite.
- Stop throwing time down the drain waiting for people: doctors, lawyers, lovers, dates, husbands, wives. Tell all of them you are on a tight-budget timetable and cannot wait-waste more than 5 minutes.
- Stop wasting time on negative activities that bring you chagrin and meltdown.
- Do not offer to do chores for others. Refuse. Every tub must stand on its own bottom. In the case of time, do not be a good Samaritan.
- Tell your boss that you have a life to lead outside the office and that you are an employee, not a slave. In an emergency you may put in some more hours, but not daily.
- Stop arguments that lead nowhere and take up time. Silence will shield you.
- Stop being on the cell phone constantly. Answer it sparingly.
- Remember that time is life, not money. Going for a stroll in the park, doing nothing, enjoying nature, is a good investment of your time. Read Walden.
Probably this eight-point time line is not the sole answer but one thing is clear: we should not maltreat time because it is our life.
(Gee, Old Nick is phoning me again. Perhaps my time is up. I’ll tell him to wait, I have no time now.)