“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”–Carl Sandburg
It’s common for people to squander the “coins” of our lives when we’re young and vital. After all, we must spend some of that “coin” in order to learn the lessons of time appreciation and budgeting. At the other extreme, it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to hoard all of one’s time out of fear of wasting it. It’s a healthy practice to intersperse strict time management with letting go of it for awhile. How long for each is a personal matter. The balance is likely to change one way or the other as we age.
We’ve had a spate of severe weather this summer in the Great Plains and I’m getting tired of it. I catch myself wishing that summer would pass soon. Then I reprimand myself by realizing the year is more than halfway through. 2021 has passed by very quickly for me. I actually wish that I could find a way to slow my perception of it. This is mostly an act of futility because humans have no actual control over the passage of time. Despite theoretical physics and technology, we can realistically, only control our acceptance of it. At best, we can temporarily tweak our perception of it as well.
Through trial and error, I’ve better learned to lessen my fear about the passage of time when planning to work on a project or visit a friend. Regardless of whether I’m dithering about a decision or if I’m actually engaged in something, time will pass anyway. I might as well just go ahead and do something constructive or fun.
As far as we know, the Universe will exist for a time span that approaches infinity. This is something we can barely wrap our heads around. We did not evolve to be able to cope with such enormous stretches of time. Regardless of the best exercise and health practices, our bodies wear down and become decrepit. With favorable genetics and reasonable mental hygiene our minds may remain curious, upbeat, and vital for the duration of our lives. We are here, in this life only once. The longest human lives exist for around a century, plus or minus a few years.
“It is strange that the years teach us patience; that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.”–Elizabeth Taylor
People who learn to live happily understand the reality of their limited lifespans and that their days fly quickly away regardless of their efforts to psychologically slow down time. They have regrets of having wasted portions of their lives yet feel joy upon knowing that they were alive and able to enjoy the act of living. They understand that impatience is a matter of non-acceptance of the process of time. Despite the more rapid perception of time passing, they know that obsessing about it is futile. Regardless of whether one imagines time crawling as slowly as a snail or traveling faster than a supersonic jet aircraft, we are most content and happy when we don’t notice either state. The wisdom of the ancient, wise elders states that When we live and create in the moment, the concept of time fades into the background. This works for everyone.
“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.”–Ancient Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius
The observations in this short blog post aren’t very profound nor are they uniquely mine. They are ponderings about a basic fact of life that I found important to remember as time flies by right now. Thank you for spending some of your precious “coins” of time checking out the blog today.
The Blue Jay of Happiness shares a favorite quip about time from actor, comedian, and producer, Steven Wright. “I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time’. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.”