Most of us avoid wasting money. Fewer of us avoid wasting time.
The Roman philosopher Seneca wisely taught that “life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested”.
The life each of us receives is not short, and yet many of us squander it carelessly.
Alan Lightman, in Einstein’s Dreams, tells a story of a world where people live forever, and where the population is divided into the Nows and the Laters.
The Nows, realizing they have infinite lives, set out to accomplish all they can. They learn as much as they can. They experience multiple professions, they learn several languages and they are always reading new books. They rise early in the day and they live with intensity.
The Laters, also aware they will live forever, conclude there is no hurry to fall in love, to read books, to learn a second language or to seek a promotion in their jobs. If time is endless, there will always be time to accomplish desired goals. This effectively means that all things can wait.
How are you living your life? Are you a Now or a Later?
Over 2,000 years ago, Seneca challenged his contemporaries to show him someone who places any value on his or her time, who understands the worth of each day and who appreciates that he or she is dying daily.
If we truly desire contentment in our lives, we need to learn to live in the moment, and to fill our lives with new experiences today, not tomorrow. While staying present is very difficult for many of us, our practice of meditation and mindfulness can help us get there more often. Doing so is a great investment of our time.