I do not fear death, I fear the loss of time. The quality of my time is much more important to me than the quantity of my remaining years. Yet, I know if I had a serious illness today I might think differently about time. If I were 10 years younger I would (and did) think differently about time. If I still had to earn a living I would think differently about time. If I lived alone I would think differently about time. If I believed in a two story universe or some other form of afterlife I would think differently about time. Yet none of these apply to me today.
The fact is, I am 68 years old, in very good health and probably have a decade or more left. I have more than adequate resources and no longer need to spend time earning a living. I am married to a wonderful supportive woman with whom to share my time. I have an extended family who live productive lives and require nothing from me other than my love. I am not burdened with limitations or illusions formed by any religious dogma about my future after death. In addition, I am blessed to live in one of the world's great cities in a nation that affords most of its citizens more than any other in past ages. Perhaps most importantly I feel privileged to be alive during the dawn of the age of science, a time in history of great wondrous discoveries about human origins and new understandings of our potential future destiny. In short, I am a very lucky man. I have no complaints about my life. So how should a lucky man think about time
Some say think of every day as if it were your last. But I do not find that particularly helpful. Perhaps I should find some people in their 80's or 90's to talk to about how they view time. Yet, end of life brooding is not where I am at. I am not sure I really care about how others view their time other than what it may illuminate for me about how I might view mine. Some might say I simply do not realize that I have only recently begun to think about my finiteness. Yet, if I knew for certain I was going to die tomorrow, no doubt my mind would be flooded with a hundred thoughts but time would not be one of them.
Some people I have read about proclaim they wished they lived in a distant past greater than their own. What must it mean to live with a belief that your moment in history is the wrong one. I know of no past that I would rather live in, I very much want to live now. Perhaps, to be honest, I wish that that my now could extend a couple decades longer than it likely will because of what more may be discovered in this century about the cosmos that would be fascinating to know. In less than the lifetime of some still alive today, humankind first learned that there was another galaxy beyond our own and that change in self-awareness has just barely begun to sink in. What must the immediate future hold
And the planet itself. Will it survive what humans will do to it in those years ahead But of course it will, although it is not certain humans will survive with it. Those kind of thoughts influence how one thinks about time, don't they
I am not struggling to find some new grand purpose to my life. Yet, there is no denying I think more about what is worth my time now than in days past. When one thinks they probably have another 10 or 15 quality years yet ahead of them, I believe they fall into the realm of, "not to worry I have plenty of time left." That is where I am most likely at today.
Having spent so much of my life living a reactive life; reactive to events, people and happenings that I spent all my hours responding to, I now accept for the first time I am in complete charge of my time and can proactively expend it. I suppose that always has been the case. I just didn't believe it.
Thus, my time issues are not in terms of years or even the next 12 months, but in terms of weeks, days and hours. A sense that time is beginning to race by. A day has just finished and I didn't get to half of the things I planned on when I woke up.
It is already mid June and what I thought I would have accomplished by now this year hasn't happened. I do try to manage my time carefully. My wife and I have weekly meetings and create detailed To Do lists and time lines, which is almost as good as getting everything done. Almost. Frankly, I don't think these are necessarily new experiences or new feelings for me. But I do find myself thinking about the subject of time a lot more than ever before. T.S. Eliot said it pretty well: Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future, and time future contained in time past. If all time is eternally present, All time is unredeemable.
So tell me dear friends and colleagues how do you think about time at this point in your life