Why do we wish away our time? When we are at school we wait expectantly for the end of the school day, for the weekend, for the school holidays. We keep wishing away our present and our future by longing to be in college (or to just get out there in the big wide world and start working). At college we long to be at university. At university we strive to graduate with the prospects of an exciting and fulfilling job. Then we aim for promotion, the next big pay rise or the next personal milestone like getting married or having children. Our sense of time seems to be governed by milestones and an almost obsessive need to leap from one to another like over-active frogs. Inevitably, as the milestones start spreading out, the lack of reference points seems to make time fly by faster and faster. Before long we start asking ourselves: “Where has all the time gone?”
We never seem to have enough time. There are hundreds of books to be read, relationships to be nurtured, films to be watched, places to be visited, people to be seen, things to be learned and the list grows ever longer by the day. But there never seems to be enough time to do all these things and to still go to work, take care of our basic needs, bring up children and/or take care of sick/elderly relatives. And we can so often be guilty of rushing from one thing to the next in a bid to achieve as much as possible in our short lives.
One of the well-known experiences of those with terminal illnesses is that they suddenly come face-to-face with the reality of the limited amount of time they have left. This dose of reality invariably helps them to see, and truly appreciate, all that they already have and to focus on the genuinely important things. Sometimes their time is spent visiting one or two places they have always been desperate to see, doing something they have never done before or, very often, as simple as spending as much time as possible with loved ones. Their dose of the reality that time marches inexorably on without waiting for anyone enables them to pick out the important stuff from the merely nice to have.
In this chaotic and hectic world where nothing ever really stops we need to remember that we don’t have forever. We may hope that those around us will share all our days and that we will all live long and healthy lives, but the reality is often far less kind.
When we shop for presents for our family and friends we often spend large amounts of money to show our appreciation for their love, support and kindness. Perhaps we should consider just wrapping up an invitation to spend time with them – organise a big party where you can spend time with all your favourite people. Make time to listen, really listen, to what people say to you and try not to always be in a hurry for the next thing on your list.
I am so often guilty of this. Living a busy and full life is wonderful but there have been many times in my life when I have been so busy that I have failed to notice all the great experiences I could have had with my friends, family, acquaintances if only I had slowed my pace and spent more time with them rather than running from one activity to another. Living life to the full also means prioritising so the time we have can be spent in the best possible way. Then experiencing each event, each relationship, each moment as fully as possible.
“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.” (Rick Warren from “The Purpose Driven Life” calendar)
Spend time with those you love and care for. Cherish them. Don’t waste time: tell them how you feel today. Time is so precious. Don’t waste it.
(Image by: Dan – http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=587)