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.