Bring it to pass that I shall cease trying to escape from death, and that life may cease to escape from me. – Seneca
It’s curious to me how much we talk about time passing. Don’t get me wrong, I talk and think a lot about this. I’m so focused on achieving great things that sometimes I don’t allow myself the freedom to let these things happen over time. I feel that if they are not successful right now then they’ll never be successful. Now obviously this isn’t true and with most things, it takes time to perfect them. It takes days, months, years to make things great or make things successful. So, then that begs the question, what is the rush? That’s something I grapple with in work and life but especially with my creative work. Not very often are things overnight successes and if they are usually the flame is extinguished just as quick as it was lit.
I always like to say that perfection takes time but in the same breath I’ll say that we do not have enough time. So I ask again, what’s the rush? Well, the easiest answer is we do not know when this rat race is going to be over. I’m sure writing those words makes people nervous. That’s why we feel rushed…we do not know when it’s our time and that can freak people out. I’m not sure that my drive comes from trying to cheat death or that I’m running out of time. For me, it’s more about wanting it all now, which is of course very unrealistic. Seneca makes a great point that we don’t want to be so focused on the end that we do not enjoy the journey. The journey that we’re all on is the enjoyable part. That’s the point he’s trying to convey. Live life so much so that we do not want to try to cheat death. This rings even more true for me. Do not worry about the things I’m trying to achieve, don’t worry about how I will achieve them, don’t worry about when I’ll achieve them, but enjoy the process of achieving them.
Now, focus on your life. Does this apply somewhat to your life? I’m sure some parts of it do. Do you worry about not having enough time so much so that you’re not currently enjoying what you’re doing? Let’s face it, as we get older each day is a smaller proportion of our life. Each day seems shorter and shorter.
Infinitely swift is the flight of time, as those see more clearly who are looking backward. For when we are intent on the present, we do not notice it, so gentle is the passage of time’s headlong flight. – Seneca
Did you really read that quote? It’s one of those that builds and means more the more you read it. I journal about this idea on a regular basis. If someone were to read my journal entries they would mostly be bored but one common thing that comes up frequently is the passage of time. It’s amazing to me how fast our children grow and how fast time feels like it flies by. There’s the logical way to look at it and realize that each day is a smaller portion of our life as we get older. Time does feel like it speeds up but why does it feel that way? That’s what Seneca is getting at and if you didn’t the first time I asked you, read it again. The reason time feels like it flies by is because we’re always looking in the rearview mirror instead of the windshield. For example, it’s crazy for me to think that our little William is almost nine months old. When I look back I can’t believe it because it feels like just yesterday that he was born. That’s when the spiral happens. That’s when we start to feel like time is moving too fast and if we do not hurry up then we’ll be left behind. That’s Seneca’s point. Live in the moment. If we do not dwell on the past so much then we can live in the present. Then we see time as it really is. Let’s be honest, we all have the same 24 hours and 365 days the question is how are we spending that time. Think about it for a moment. Are you living in the moment? Are you living in the past? How often are you looking through the rear view mirror instead of the windshield?
Show me that the good in life does not depend upon life’s length, but upon the use, we make of it; also, that it is possible, or rather usual, for a man who has lived long to have lived too little. – Seneca
Now that you have focused on living in the moment, I hope it’s as freeing for you as it for me. This moment right now is all that matters. Don’t get me wrong, I struggle with this as well. This is a daily practice. Do you know who is really good at living in the moment? Children. It’s easy for them because they do not know any better. They only know what’s going on in front of them right now. It’s a great place to be let’s be honest with ourselves. The easiest way for us to capture that is to be with our kids all the time. Unfortunately this day in age we cannot do that so this is what I’ll leave you with… When you start feeling anxious about how you’re running out of time or when you start feeling like time is flying by stop yourself. Ask yourself about the moment you’re in right now. That in the very least will pull your head out of the tailspin. That will pull your eyes off of the rear view mirror and focus you on what’s happening right now. That’s when life is at it’s best. When we’re in the moment. I’ll end this post with what I end every daily journal with… Be in the moment.
Here are some other great quotes from Letter #49:
It was but a moment ago that I sat, as a lad, in the school of the philosopher Sotion, but a moment ago that I began to plead in the courts, but a moment ago that I lost the desire to plead, but a moment ago that I lost the ability.
But this point of time, infinitesimal as it is, nature has mocked by making it seem outwardly of longer duration; she has taken one portion thereof and made it infancy, another childhood, another youth, another the gradual slope, so to speak, from youth to old age, and old age itself is still another.
In other years time did not seem to me to go so swiftly; now, it seems fast beyond belief, perhaps, because I feel that the finish-line is moving closer to me, or it may be that I have begun to take heed and reckon up my losses.
Cicero declared that if the number of his days were doubled, he should not have time to read the lyric poets.
Give me the courage to meet hardships; make me calm in the face of the unavoidable.
Show me that the good in life does not depend upon life’s length, but upon the use, we make of it; also, that it is possible, or rather usual, for a man who has lived long to have lived too little.
At our birth, nature made us teachable and gave us reason, not perfect, but capable of being perfected.