People say that time is our only finite, nonrenewable resource but usually act as if the opposite is true. The reality is that if we really believed our time here on earth was limited we would live very different lives. I have personally had a close call with death and it reminded me how fragile this life can be. Consequently, I make it my mission to live in the present moment and as Thoreau said, “suck out all the marrow of life.”
Thoreau’s friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his Essays: “[Thoreau] lived for the day, not cumbered and mortified by his memory. If he brought you yesterday a new proposition, he would bring you today another not less revolutionary. A very industrious man, and setting, like all highly organized men, a high value on his time, he seemed the only man of leisure in town, always ready for any excursion that promised well, or for conversation prolonged into late hours.”
Seneca was a Stoic philosopher and another proponent of optimizing our lives. As Damon Young writes in his compelling book Distraction, “For Seneca, the first necessity was free time, or what the Romans called ‘otium.’ But the next obligation was to avoid wasting it. In his sparkling little essay ‘On the Shortness of Life,’ Seneca lambasted those who whined about mortality while frittering away their days. For him, there was plenty of time to achieve anything a good man might long for. All a happy and long life needed was clarity, diligence and intelligence—to be clear about what we want and firm and straightforward in getting it.”
On this point, it is also helpful to meditate on Acts 17:26, a powerful scripture from The Message about our relationship to time: “God made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God.” All too often, the human race tries desperately to live up to its name. So it helps to remember that God created us as human beings not human doings. The more life means to us the better we will value our time. After all, life is less about managing an already busy schedule than it is about slowing down long enough to savor the journey.