I’ve thought about time a lot during the past couple of years. I actively train myself to make better use of my time. So, no alarms and no surprises: this essay’s about time.
Like distance and direction, time’s a universal gauge we use to get our bearings in life. Yet we relate to time in many different ways. We strive to be on time. We ask others if they have the time. We convince ourselves that we have all the time in the world. We wait for the right time. We worry that we’re behind the times. We try to find time. We try to make time. We wonder where the time went. We struggle to understand how time can slow down near a black hole. While, for one man, time is an ocean that ends at the shore.
We can only relate to time in abstract, metaphorical ways. Time is beyond our five senses. We can’t touch, smell, taste, hear, or see time. We merely perceive evidence of time’s passing in the changing seasons, children growing up, the appearance of grey hair, and those moments when all the years combine to melt into a dream.
Time is the invisible wayfarer cutting a path on the long road of existence.
Our stint on that road is brief. And though time cuts that path for us, it shines no light on the road ahead. We don’t even know how much time we have on that road. All we do know is that time leads us all to the same end.
Many of us have good reason to lament not having enough time. We have full daily schedules compelling us to do certain things. And we reserve both energy and time to squeeze in activities we genuinely want to do. Sometimes it truly feels like there’s too much to do, and simply not enough time to do it.
These feelings become more pronounced as we grow older. We can feel our time getting shorter in our bones and blood. For something invisible and beyond our senses, time sets a very real burden on our shoulders. And that burden only becomes heavier as our time whittles away.
I’m starting to feel that weight. I can see time passing in my hair and beard. I can feel it in my joints. I can measure it in the fitness, writing, and carpentry projects I’ve been working on for several years now.
I feel time’s pressure daily. I usually find myself with about 500 hours of music, movies, documentaries, and podcasts I want to absorb. I also invest at least 5 hours in working out, reading, writing, and watching hockey every day. What can I tell you? Such are the self-inflicted burdens of the inspired Canadian.
I hope you know what I’m talking about. For in my experience, people who complain about not having enough time tend to be the same people who complain about being bored. Such people are full of shit. They fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way. Such people lament not having enough time because they lack the courage to admit they make poor use of their time.
Here are two suggestions that may save you some time. First, be ruthlessly selective in who you choose to ask about how they’ve passed their leisure time. For allowing someone to piss in your ear about their weekend going by too fast is an absolute waste your time. Second, absent yourself from anyone who complains about being bored. For boredom is the opposite of happiness, and, as my Old Man once told me, bored is a word used by people too afraid to admit they’re just fuckin’ lazy.
I’ve got no time for unhappy, lazy people in my life. And neither should you.
Ask yourself what’s really important: how much time you have, or how much you can do with the time you have?
For time is like an 8-foot length of 2x4 lumber. On the one hand, a 2x4 is commonly used as a wall stud in house construction. Yet that same 2x4 can also be cut, reshaped, and assembled into countless useful household fittings. Evidence: Google ‘2x4 challenge.’
The length of the board doesn’t dictate its usefulness. Our ability to imagine what we can use it for does. The same goes for time. The length of time we have doesn’t limit us. It’s the scope of our imaginations and willingness to act that does.
No one can decide how to use your time but you. Choose to make good use of it. Invest time in the people and things that matter to you. Say no to people and things that don’t interest you. Make a list of what you’re going to do. Set aside blocks of time for doing those things. Set a timer. Listen to, and read, anything by the world’s best guinea pig. Figure out what works best for you.
Enjoy the time you have, and take this absolute truth to heart:
Your time is always running out, and there is always something to do.
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I've assembled a playlist to accompany this essay. Here's the link.
So listen to some good music while you're doing whatever you do next. And thanks for using some of your time to read.