The Value of Time

We shall never have more time. We have, and have always had, all the time there is. No object is served in waiting until next week or even until tomorrow. Keep going day in and day out. Concentrate on something useful. Having decided to achieve a task, achieve it at all costs. -Arnold Bennett.

Despite the finite nature of time, and the mortal constraints we face because of our humanity, there is still immense value to time. Our life is largely spent on the past, or in the future, but rarely in the present. I think this is so because the present is a land of monotony, somewhat boring, laborious, and arena of preparation. There’s not much sexiness in spending time preparing, yet it’s what waits for us in the here and now.

There are two ways to look at the past and future, and both have to deal with time travel. The first is characterized by Uncle Rico in the movie, Napolean Dynamite. He’s stuck in the glory years of his past football accomplishments, and cannot move into the future because he’s already accomplished his life goal: To be a football star. The future holds nothing for him, so traveling back in time is seen as the only way to live.

The second way to look at the past and future is to be ashamed, angry, or sad about what’s happened in the past, and want the future to hold something different. This is the land of fantasy andthe make believe. It’s a big reason why facebook is so popular: We can project a fragmented version, the best foot forward, of ourselves for the “world” to see, love, and admire. It’s why you don’t see profile pictures of suffering, grief, loss, heartache, and sadness. Partially this is true because those emotions are almost impossible to capture in an image, nor would most want to.

We judge ourselves (and others) based on what we have done, and what we will do. It’s impossible to be equally committed to judgement and engaging in the present at the same time. You’re either in yesterday and tomorrow, or today. Choose you which day whom you will serve.

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