“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t
own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep
it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it
you can never get it back.”
— Harvey MacKay
One of the greatest luxuries in life is to have lots of time for the things you love.
Yet much of modern life is focused on progress, motivation, efficiency and achievement. Each of which belie a desire to get more from any given period of time. If pursuing these phenomena results in greater time for pleasures and people, they are well worth chasing. If not, one has to wonder whether our relationship with time is a healthy one.
On my Vipassana course, one of the things I noticed more than any other was my unhealthy relationship with time. 10-days spent with zero external stimulus will do that to a person. However, the period showed me the depth of my wrestling with time. The continual anticipation of the next session, the next day and what I would do after the course. My thoughts of the past, my anxieties about the future.
Yet I realised that many of those thoughts were worthless. The anxieties about the future that I’ve had previously have often been about things that never occurred. Life’s twists and turns means that much worry isn’t worth worrying about, given the things that cause the concern never happen.
One of the things I’m most grateful for in my life at present is having time. Yet time is also one of my biggest issues. I have it, right here, right now, yet I’m often thinking of the past or the future. If life is a journey, my thoughts tend to lay with the horizon, or my footsteps.
A recent visitor out here in Kenya mentioned that one of the things she found most special about the place was the time each of us had for one another. People take siestas. Even busy people will take a few minutes if they bump into one another. There are fewer people, so you get more time with each. I’ve spent more quality time here in Kenya with people from London and San Francisco than I imagine I would have been able to back home. Part of that is the situation – people are staying with us. Yet part of it is also not having the pressure of time bearing down on us. We don’t have three people to see in different parts of town. When I eventually head home, I’ll try to remember the following:
- To see one person properly, rather than many fleetingly.
- To book in more one-to-one dinners and less parties, even if that results in my friendship group diminishing because I can’t keep up.
- To work on one thing at a time, even when I have a motely collection of different tasks to do (which is normally).
- To worry less about what ‘might’ happen and to concern myself with what ‘is’.
- To take more time over important things and ignore much of the rest.
- To try to do less, better
Most of all, I’ll try to remember that the only way to deal with the past, or the future, is now.