Jan 262015 1 Response

Two Deceptions Regarding Time

A day will come in which my name will not be remembered. Every word spoken and written, every life influenced, and legacy left will be erased. My guess is it will happen far sooner than I can imagine. It will only take a few generations before my name is no more.

Yet even before that day, my life’s work will quickly diminish. (See: You Chose This)

There have been few people I loved in my life like my grandparents. They have only been gone for a few years, yet I don’t think of them every day. I remember them fondly and at times miss them greatly, but on a day-to-day basis their absence does not leave a void. Even with all they did through their nine decades, someone who loved them most only remembers them a few times a week.

As the old song says, “Time marches on.”

With or without us, the clock continues to tick and the calendar continues to turn.

If we aren’t careful, we can realize this truth about life and come to the wrong conclusion that because life is so fleeting, it doesn’t matter what we do. Because everything we accomplish will one day be erased, why do anything?

It’s a false conclusion, but one which many people draw. (See: Stop Squandering Your Time)

This is the challenge with time. We all live within its context, but if we aren’t very careful we can be tempted by two misconceptions regarding its true nature. Either misconception leads to dangerous consequences.

Two Misconceptions:

1. Some wrongly believe we have all the time in the world. This is often the error of youth. Having not lived long enough to understand how quickly time passes, we can underestimate its value. When we believe a resource is unlimited, we do not value an individual unit of that resource. Believing time is without end, we waste the minutes, hours, and days given to us.

2. Some wrongly believe we do not have enough time for it to matter. This is often the error of those who are older. Having experienced how quickly time can pass, we can falsely conclude that we do not have enough time to accomplish anything of significance. Even if we do accomplish great things, we see how quickly they are forgotten or erased, and we conclude the effort is not worth it.

Both of these misconceptions miss the truth.

The truth about time is that most of us have enough time to do things which matter, but have no time to waste.

We have enough time to accomplish things. We can love, build, create, innovate, dream, design, accomplish, and achieve. Great things can happen. And rarely is it too late to do something. Second and third careers are possible. New tricks can be learned even by old dogs. Amazing things can be accomplished in one lifetime.

Yet no one has any time to waste. Life is too fleeting. Time is too precious. At any moment, the gift of life could be taken from us. Because of the brevity of time, we cannot waste a single moment. (See: A Secret About Today Which Could Change Everything)

I often have the honor of standing at the bedside of those who are dying. One of the common themes of those conversations is how quickly life passes. Whether the person is suffering from cancer in their late 20s or experiencing the failure of multiple organs in their 90s, they look at time in similar ways. It passes quickly.

Yet I’ve never had a single person on their deathbed reflect on the quick passing of time and think that someone should throw their hands up in apathy and attempt nothing great. Instead, every person looks at the brevity of life and wishes they would have wasted less time and dared to attempt greater things.

We have enough time to do great things, but we don’t have a second to waste.

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