The other morning my son was standing by the counter getting his breakfast when he stopped and asked me what time it was. As he did this, he pointed to three different digital clocks, each a minute apart. One of them said 7:24, one said 7:25 and the other said 7:26. His question was, “Which one is correct?” Time is set by some standard and he recognized it.
To most of us these say the same thing. After all, time is most often measured in relative terms. I might have answered him by saying, “It is almost 7:30.” I would not have been leading him astray; I just would have been giving a less than precise answer. We do understand time in precise terms, at least most of us do. If you are someone who keeps relative time, my guess is you are late to most things. I like to consider myself late to something if I am not five minutes early.
Time has a lot to say about our lives, whether we like it or not. In fact, time takes on certain characteristics that we toss around without much thought.
I have time. I ran out of time. Give me some time. I need more time. These all illustrate one way we look at time, as a possession. It is obvious that we only have so much time in a day. That time gets divided up into various segments and activities that make up our lives.
If time is a possession, it can be wasted. The problem with this is it is hard to define what it means to waste time. Some people will claim that spending 12 hours a day on social media is a quality use of their time, while others would call them lazy. What is the standard for the use of time?
If time is a possession, I can lose it. I am sure that everyone has lost something in their life. Time, as a possession, gets lost when people ignore it. It is like losing track of a child at the mall. Time will do that to you also, if you don’t pay attention to it.
If time is a possession, I want more of it. People are clamoring for all sorts of possessions, time not withstanding. How can I get more of it? How can I save it? Great questions, but not too helpful if you don’t know what you need the time for. I could gather more and more money, but at some point I go from necessity to want. Then all of a sudden there is trouble. Time can be that way too. When some people have too much time on their hands, they get into trouble.
Time does certain things to people. Time can heal wounds, mend relationships, or calm people down. Time can also get people worked up, make anger build and cause harm to the human body.
If time is a drug, it can be overdosed. Too much time without some sort of helpful input from others can actually be harmful. Time might also be an enemy to people as they start to obsess about something and maybe even get worse. On that same theme, people can get addicted to time, or the lack there of. If someone is chronically busy, they might be addicted to that lifestyle. It becomes something that they have to be in order to feel normal. These people have a hard time saying no, even though they have more than they could possibly do.
If time is a drug, it can be ineffective. People who need time and don’t get it get stressed. Take a college student who has several large papers to write, books to read and a job. If they do not use the time they have correctly, they will be in rough shape. Coffee can keep someone awake, but coffee does not conjure up more time. This creates stress and stress causes harmful things to happen to people.
Time as a drug can also encourage the healing of wounds. They say that time heals wounds. Given time, people will usually calm down and start to at least get their head on straight again.
Limiting Time’s Rule
Time is important and necessary. It cannot be left to manage you, you must manage it. Too many people run through life in a hurry just hanging on until the next thing comes along. There needs to be much more thought put into things. Here are a few ideas from my crazy life to yours:
Priorities – Do you know what is important to you? I have talked to people who have made excuses for everything from school to family responsibilities. My question is always the same, “What do you do with your time?” Some people will claim they have no time for their kids and then spend an entire Saturday working on some hobby apart from them. Students who struggle to get school work done but spend 4 hours on Facebook each night have a priority problem, not a lack of time problem.
Be Reasonable About Commitments I have learned this the hard way at times. If you realistically cannot do something, then go ahead and say no. It is far less stressful that way. In fact, say it out loud right where you are, if you need to.
Stop Making Excuses Kids, families, work, and school are all huge time consumers. Everyone has their own box of craziness to sort out, so let’s not make excuses. I think making a plan is a better idea. For example, I know that my schedule is full, but I still prioritize dinner time with my family. At dinner, we talk about the day without phones, or television. Those little investments of time add up. (over time of course)
Don’t Get Lazy- If you have set your priorities, then stick with them. I have had to give up things I wanted to do because I had to do some work for my Master’s Degree. I could have skipped it, but that is borrowed time and you know what happens with that. It will catch up to you and sleep is lost as a result.
Time never stops, but it doesn’t need to be the boss. My 4-year-old son noticed this one day while looking at another clock. He said, “That clock never stops ticking.”
He is right, time does not stop. So, what can we do today to not waste the opportunities before us? That is, after all, the whole concept behind “No Throw Aways.” We have limited time, so let’s live with purpose.