Time: The Ultimate Killer and Most Important Ressource

Ticking away the hours that make up a dull day…

OK guys, this is a more philosophical one, but sitting here in the night with the sound of the mediterranean waves in the ears and only the stars above (kids fortunately sleeping happily), that’s just what fits.

So let’s go:

Travelling for a longer time and with the luxury to do so with a quasi-open end leads to an interesting phenomenon sooner or later:

You completely lose your sense for time. Or you gain it. Difficult to say which of both.

You cannot say anymore what day of the week it is, let alone what date of the month. You find it hard to say how many days ago a certain event was, or how many days in the future a certain event will take place.

And if you abandon your watch as far as possible (recommended!), you don’t know how long you did do a certain activity at all. Yet, if you glance at a watch around sooner or later, you will find that your body adapts to the rhythm of nature, e.g. you wake up at 7:20 each morning, plus minus only 5 minutes.

That’s a good sign for that you truly start to relax, because it shows that you start “floating” in the stream of time instead of rowing against it, as most of us unfortunately do in everyday life. In other words you start to really life  now and here, a thing that should be very high on the agenda of anyone seeking to live a happy life!

Kids are a good example what I mean. They just wake up without any alarm at almost the same time every day, and they never say to themselves: “Oh gosh, I have only 10 minutes left to play with my toys”, or: “I am getting late, its only 20 minutes to go and I still have to do xyz”. They just do what they do, and stop when they have enough (or get interrupted by us inpatient parents).

However, in this nice state of living in the here and now, some thoughts about time in general started to cross my mind. The most important take aways are easy, but striking every time again if you think it to the end:

a) Time is the ultimate killer.

b) Time is the single most essential resource in life.

(A) Time is the ultimate killer

This certainly is a tough part, but on your way to happiness there is no way around this insight.
Many very clever people and philosophers have made that point already, but it’s worth repeating:

Time will eat away everything.

Your goal is to get famous?
Bad idea, even if you succeed, in a few blinks from now, if you see it on a global scale, your fame will be forgotten. Marc Aurel, a roman emperor and philosopher was one of the first to state this in shocking clarity in his “Meditations” about 2000 years ago (Ironically enough he might be among the few of his times who are indeed still remembered today…).

You are proud on what you built or accumulated in your life?
In a blink of time it will be crumbled to dust.

You think you/your family/your company/your country are the greatest and that makes you feel good?
Very poor attitude, as time will change that, sooner or later. Empires fall, dynasties rot away, and great nations crumble. Look at Greece, the great empire 2500 years ago, envied and copied for hundreds of years. Look at Rome, look at ancient Egypt, or look at the cradle of western civilisation: Persia and Mesopotamia (today Iran and Irak). All of them, and hundreds of others later went the all the way up and down again. Time pushed them to the top only to send them back down again later.

Families and dynasties rise only to descend. A famous book on such a declining family and their struggle against it is “Buddenbrooks” by Thomas Mann, an excellent German author and Nobel price laureate.

All of this is a hard fact on the one side, and a cheering one on the other:

You can easily forget about your fame and what you are going to leave behind. You can, with a very good conscience, concentrate on the here and now and on having a happy day now! And you should do exactly this.

You should be very sceptical about everybody promising you big gains tomorrow if you just sacrifice something today. He might be right sometimes, but often enough he might just try to benefit from the things he tries to convince you to give up. (e.g. talks like this: “If you work many unpaid over hours for me now, this increases your chance of career later…”)

One of my favorite book on the topic of time is Momo by Michael Ende. Actually a fairy tale, but a very intelligent one. It’s about the grey men coming to a city and starting to convince people to “save” time which will be paid back later including interests. While people are saving they got frozen, and shortly later, people stop talking to each other or visiting their old grandparents. They are rushing all day and don’t play anymore with the child Momo, just to save as much time as possible…

Don’t do the same mistake, because you might sense it already:

The grey men are not planning to give the time back to the people…

(B) Time is the single most essential resource in life

Some people are rich, some are poor. But regarding time, everybody is absolutely equal. A day is a day. No matter how smart you are, how rich, how old or young or how good-looking. We all have 24 hours and not a single second more or less.

It all depends on what you do with it.

Recently I read a quite interesting interview with a nurse, who met thousands of old people when they were about to die. She interviewed all of this people on their deathbed and asked (among others) what they would have done different in life or if they regretted something. The outcome was clear and very independent of their social status, their wealth and so on:

– Allmost all regretted not to have spent more time with their children, families and loved ones.

– Most said they should have cared more for themselves, and less cared about duties and tasks imposed by the outside.

– No one regretted not to have spent more time working. Or that he/she did too less office hours.

– Almost none regretted not having earned more money/fame.

And so on.

The message thus is clear, and you will find it in all major philosophies:

Use your time wisely now. It is not unlimited even though we sometimes thinks so because of its continuous flow around us. And some day it might be too late to make up for all the time lost before. (Know the song “Time” by Pink Floyd?!)

Understand what YOU want to do with your time.

And then start getting control over the use of your time. Don’t let others control that more than really necessary.

Take your time and cherish the moments. Slow down every now and then and feel the passage of time consciously, without disturbance of the constant ear-battering fire of media and modern lifestyle.

Because using time wisely does not necessarily mean to hectically chain activity to activity. Using time wisely means that you concentrate on the moment, that you are aware of the moment and what you are doing or not doing, that you have control and are not driven by outside forces.

This is living, even if nothing happens except the stars moving above you.




8 comments on “Time: The Ultimate Killer and Most Important Ressource

  1. jamesroom964x says:

    This was a cool post with a great perspective on time, and what’s really important in life. I’ve recently started a job where I have tons of free time, and in one sense it’s great. I have limitless possibilities for the day, but on the other hand, my time wasting seems to expand to fit it’s container. It’s easy to just waste time when we don’t have a schedule, but as you say, we also don’t want to spend all our time working either. It’s an interesting little paradox, for sure.

    • mrwoodpecker says:

      Guess sometimes it’s not so easy to fill out your free time meaningful. This sometimes is my problem as well, and thats one of the reasons I like travelling so much – there is always so much new to see and to do…

  2. gand3r says:

    there’s one little problem with this article:
    what do *you* want to spend your time for?
    pleasure is as much a time-waster as a job is.
    I think the key-element in this posting is:
    “Travelling for a longer time and with the luxury to do so with a quasi-open end”
    just hoarding the time as the grey men in momo do, that’s not the meaning of life.
    time is equal for everyone, but depending on your activities it is experienced differently.
    when you travel, you experience new tings all the time. time then seems much longer than it is.
    if you sit in your chair with some waterpipe or whatever, nothing new will ever reach you.
    also one should keep in mind that building up family/fame/country/money also can be seen as living in the now and here!
    the difference is just that people should take advantage of what they built so far…

    • mrwoodpecker says:

      Absolutely. Everybody has to find out him/herself what to spend their time on in the most meaningfull way. That does obviously not have to be travelling for everybody, just in my case I find that very rewarding.
      If you e.g. love your house and garden very much, there’s nothing wrong spending time there. If you really love your job, even working would be fine – but make sure you REALLY love it and are not only trying to convince yourself you do…

  3. Alexander says:

    “You can easily forget about your fame and what you are going to leave behind. You can, with a very good conscience, concentrate on the here and now and on having a happy day now! And you should do exactly this.”
    I love this. 🙂
    I try not to take care of my fame and the opinions of other people. But this is not easy, especially in business life are often degrees expected to be successful. But my life is much more pleasant since then. Now i have to try wasting my time less, like commuting every day for 1h…Move closer to work is too expensive. My friend said i could learn a foreign language while I commute to work. I good idea wich i will try.

    • mrwoodpecker says:

      Are commuting 1h in total or one-way? If it was 1h one-way I’d definitely try to change something because that would be 10hrs per week! Using that time meaningful is sure a good idea if you cannot avoid commuting at all – let me know if it works. I sometimes listen to spoken books from the library. Sometimes they are so exciting that I even look forward to the way home!

  4. This is a really interesting and awakening post. I totally agree time is an ultimate killer. It’s actually killing me now with all the worrying of the things that I should be doing right, the meaning of life, and seeking for happiness. Time is ticking and sometimes I panic cause I don’t know what to do with it. But at the end of the I always tell myself to live your life one day at a time and do what really important in your life right.

  5. […] that much a role for your life satisfaction. And you work as little as possible and have no TV thus time is an ample resource to you (maybe that ample that you actually are one of the few happy people today that still know […]

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