Are We Just Killing Time?
Are we just killing time?
We live in a society that is obsessed with time. We are fixated continuously on meeting deadlines, creating due dates, achieving goals, and most importantly not “wasting time.”
The curious thing is, with this extreme focus on time, we end up suffocating it. The process is slow and sneaking. Through this pursuit, we end up spending our time in far less than desirable states of mind.
We allow this suffocation of time because we are not focusing on it’s unique and non-refundable qualities. There are some unique considerations that we should give to time that we just do not.
Properties of Time
Most people know you cannot get time back, but they do not act like it. We know that every second occurs once, but many people do not realize this with all of their beings.
As far as we can tell there are no replays. We get this one life, and that is it. Perhaps we intellectualize this, but we rarely live it.
Because we all live in an interconnected system called life, what we do and do not do with our lives matter. What if our gift was to cure cancer and we decided to lead a life of mediocrity instead? The only way in which we would discover this purpose is through experimentation and action.
This search brings about another point. No one has found the meaning of life. The only conclusion that has been drawn is that life is arbitrary. It retains the purpose that you assign it.
The only way in which to discover what truly lights you up is through trial and error. We must make mistakes to grow. Use your time wisely and set it up to experiment and experience life.
We all experience living in the same moment, the present one. As a wise sage by the name of Lao Tzu once said:
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
It is nice to intellectualize such a profound quote; it is another thing entirely to embody and live it.
What do we do?
If these points about time are valid, what is it that we are to do?
The first and foremost is that we must establish some sense of perspective and urgency. Then we can practice techniques that will help us to enjoy and utilize each moment to its fullest.
Some examples of these tactics are living in the present moment and ensuring that the causes that we pursue are as vital to us as time itself. This focus is how we do not waste time.
It is important to contemplate and meditate upon death to establish some sense of urgency. We walk around like we are immortal beings. We are not.
We have a finite lifespan, and it is ticking every second of every day in one direction only. We can gain some perspective by realizing the shortness of life compared to other cosmic events.
According to Google, the average human lifespan as of 2018, is 79 years. That is 28,835 days. If you are 25, then almost 32% of those days are gone, or 9,125 days have already been used leaving you with a remaining 19,710 days.
Out of those close to 10,000 days already used, how many do you remember? How many of those days were you happy, or better yet in a joyous state of mind?
According to Wikipedia, stars range from about 1-10 billion years old. For the sake of argument, let’s say a star only lived for one billion years. That is 1,000,000,000 years and translates into 365,000,000,000 days!
If we compare the lifespan of a star to that of a human, it is 0.0000079% that of stars. A star that lives to it’s shortest expected lifetime will outlive a human by nearly 13 million, that is 13,000,000 lifetimes!
In the eyes of the universe, the lifespan of a human is but a mere blip in time. It is a fraction of a second in the eternal dance of the cosmos. At the very least, figure out what makes you happy and do more of that!
We also know as we age, this crazy one-way train is gaining speed, at least perceptually. It is a common phrase to hear “the older I get, the faster time goes” or something similar. Could it be that instead of time speeding up, we are becoming busier and more distracted?
As was noted by author Robert Cialdini “Every day in every way, I’m getting busier.”
If our minds are increasingly distracted, is it a wonder that we do not realize time as it passes? If we do not comprehend the passage of time, could that make it seemingly go faster? After all, it is called entertainment because when you are in an enjoyable state, you no longer realize the passing of time.
Living In The Present Moment
Present moment awareness is something that few people cultivate in such a day and age. We are obsessed with the chase so much so that we forget to stop and smell the roses. Life becomes a constant pursuit until the bitter end.
It is of paramount importance, as Thich Nhat Hanh so wisely says, to take some time to be alive and to know that you are alive. This noticing is the most significant gift that any one person can achieve. This awareness can only be attained through the practice of cultivating present moment awareness.
You can ask yourself “where am I now”? Are your thoughts wandering somewhere else, or are you entirely experiencing this moment?
It is likely that if someone asked you what you ate for dinner last night that you would not remember. This forgetfulness is not because your memory is terrible, it is because you are not taking the time to be in every moment. You are distracted by a mental chatter.
I know for me, time is speeding up. I am more distracted and less present than I should be. I take particular measures in my life to combat this suffocation of time as much as possible.
I make it a habit to meditate every day for at least 20 minutes. I try to focus on the present moment and my breathing as much as I can throughout the day.
I create a routine that allows for the structuring of time for things that are important to me, such as my health, both mental and physical.
I continually focus on the things that I am doing and question them regularly. Is what I’m doing bringing me happiness and joy? If not, what do I need to do to change that?
I limit my caffeine intake. I do this because when I have too much caffeine, the voice in my head is in overdrive. Too much caffeine ensures that I stay out of the moment and in my head.
I am sure to value my time. I think about the example of how far along timewise in my life I already am. I know that I want to make an impact, so I regularly ask is what I’m doing right now pointing me toward a grounded, thrilling and impactful life, or away from one?