We sometimes hear people exclaim, “I’m having the time of my life!” I’ve probably said that myself a time or two, but what does it really mean?
Figuratively it refers to having much enjoyment, maybe more than we can ever remember. But when have you heard someone say, “I’m not having the time of my life”? In reality, like it or not, “the time of our life” is now, this very moment. What happened even one second ago is already locked into the past, and we can’t live in the future – until it arrives in the present, at which time it ceases to be the future, strangely enough.
Not to get too philosophical, but time is important to all of us. And as we get older, we learn to value time even more since there’s more of it behind us and less of it ahead of us in this life. When we were children, time seemed to move at a snail’s pace, especially when awaiting a special event, like summer vacation or Christmas. Now it seems to pass at racetrack speed.
In the newspaper business, I found time often defined by deadlines, getting articles written, photos taken and pages designed on time for going to press. Time literally was money, with presses idling and well-paid pressmen poised to print the publication. So we all felt the pressure of time.
When I moved into the business world I was introduced to “time management,” which is a misnomer. We can’t manage time any more than we can manage the wind. Unlike saving money or storing food for a future emergency, time can’t be set aside for later consumption. Time comes and goes with relentless precision, one second, one minute, one hour at a time.
Although we can’t control or slow time’s passage, we can determine how our time is used. We can set priorities, determining which things must be done and distinguishing those from other things that might be nice to do, but aren’t essential. As Oswald Chambers would say, conceding “good is the enemy of the best.” Or put another way, distinguishing the important from the tyrannical urgent.
In our leisure hours we can read thought-provoking books, play challenging games, and engage in stimulating conversations. Or we can fritter away minutes and hours watching mindless, meaningless TV programming or listen to continual radio talk show chatter, our minds becoming sponges for media clutter. We can pursue a productive hobby, participate in regular exercise, and nurture our spiritual life. Or we can squander time by eating and drinking more than we need, sleeping more than we should, and spending more than we ought.
We also can “manage time” by cherishing opportunities we have with loved ones, recognizing those can’t be reclaimed at some later date. I suspect when beloved friends and family members pass away, a part of our grieving is regret over “wouldas, shouldas and couldas” we lost.
God, who created time, speaks of it a lot in the Scriptures. Psalm 90:12, for example, suggests we ask God to “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” If you knew today – or this week – were your last, would you continue with your plans for this day?
Ecclesiastes 3:1 declares, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Many of the things we purpose to do, those activities we spend much time planning, are good. But when’s the best time for pursuing them? And when should we stop doing some of the things that have been take up too much of our time?
And Ephesians 5:16 speaks of “making the most of your time (redeeming it), because the days are evil.” Time, as they say, has a stealthy habit of slipping away when we’re not paying attention. Then we wish wistfully, “If only I had more time.”
Even in a clock, watch or calendar shop, we can’t purchase or acquire more time. But we can “manage” it by appreciating the time we have and utilizing it, better yet – investing it – in ways that will pay dividends both immediate and long-term.
We’re still early in the new year. It would be great if instead of bemoaning at year end, “Where has the time gone?” we could smile and think, “I know exactly where the time has gone. And I believe it’s been well-spent.” It’s good to stop and smell the roses, as long as we don’t become consumed by the weeds.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.