The Value of Time
This I Believe
When it comes to humankind’s great transgressions against time, I am a prime offender. I flippantly speak of losing time, saving time, taking time, making time, and spending time, as though time is something that can be finessed or negotiated in my favor. But for all my would-be time wrangling, time itself has remained the only constant in my life. It is constantly charging forward, constantly surprising me, constantly surrounding me with reminders that it is not to be taken for granted.
I believe in the value of time. Before money can be earned or spent, before friendships can be developed or disregarded, before family can be cherished or lost, there must be time.
As I head into my thirties, my relationship with time has begun to shift. Time and I have come to something of an understanding. I’m no longer surprised when time shows up at a family reunion to remind me that it’s been a full year since I’ve seen my nieces and nephews. Every year, they receive quite the makeover, courtesy of my old friend. “Do you have to work so quickly?” I want to ask. But I know time knows no other pace.
Time can be cruel. Time can take certainties and turn them into relics of the past. Time can take dreams and tuck them away in a place that’s so hard to find; but there is also no friend quite as benevolent as time. Who else but time could wipe clean the slate of past offences? Who, but time, could deliver a healing balm to soothe the pain of loss?
Time can also be a nuisance. It is always there to remind me that I’m ‘not gettin’ any younger,’ and that I’d better hurry up and do something brilliant while it’s still around.
I believe that what makes time so valuable is its ability to create opportunities–opportunities to be with loved ones, to earn a living, to engage in leisure, and to wax philosophical about one’s values. Time reveals itself to me moment by moment. It reveals to me its fragility and its resilience. How frivolously I regard these moments. I often fritter them away with mindless preoccupations. Soon, those moments transform into months and years of wasted time. And I wonder, “What would it look like?” that massive heap of squandered time. What would I do with it if it were returned to me? Would I take the opportunity to become more engaged in this life I hold so dear?
Engagement–that is my first and last–my only defense against time’s ravages. When I am truly engaged in every moment of my life, time cannot escape me. It cannot slip through the shadowy corridors of missed opportunities and forgotten dreams. Through engagement, time becomes my ally. We work together, time and I, to see to it that no opportunity is lost, no dream is deferred, and not one moment of precious time is wasted.
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