“It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.” -Bilbo Baggins
I recently read an article in the New York Times regarding our concept of time in modern times. It focused on the philosophy of time in our society. The gist of the article was focused on the temporary nature of time and the struggle to find meaning in a world where grasping it is almost impossible. However, the article did give compelling solutions to this dilemma drawing on a couple of different philosophical theories. Basically, it boiled down to attempting to slow down time through otherworldly experiences or by disrupting the narrative of life through spontaneous occurrences and experiences.
Interesting concepts to be sure, though the simple fact remains. Time is continuing to count down to an eventual ending point. Be it the end of the day or the end of one’s time on earth, it is unavoidable. I am often disturbed by this thought. Watching everything pass into the past seemed like a futile struggle with no hope of victory. Fortunately, for those who share this sense of hopelessness there are way to navigate the raging river of time without drowning. It just takes the right mindset and realization of a couple of important details. For instance…
Every ending is a new beginning. While potentially the single most trite statement ever to grace the face of the blogosphere, it is easy to forget. Furthermore, when lost in the temporary nature of our existence we tend to focus solely on the idea the end is coming soon rather than the beginning that will inevitably follow. I don’t know how many times I’ve come to the end of a movie series (Harry Potter anyone?) and felt a profound loss at the thought there will never be another installment to anxiously anticipate. However, once the initial disappointment is over I am reminded how another movies series will inevitably rise to fill the void (thank you Hunger Games) that will have the advantage of newer technology and other advances not found in my previous obsession. This concept can be applied to most things in life. Everything from the end of a relationship to the demise of society, opens up the door for something equally great. The key is to remember this when the pillars of disappointment fall upon you.
Every today is tomorrow’s yesterday. While on first glance this may sound more depressing, if one takes a closer look it actually provides another glimmer of hope. Knowing that every event in our life will inevitably fall to history enables us a clarity in life not commonly found. If today is turning out to be the worst on record, one can take solace in the fact tomorrow we will have the benefit of learning from the circumstances and actions that lead to this outcome, enabling us to avoid a similarly tragic outcome in the future. What then, if today is a day of excellence? How can one be satisfied with the idea it will soon just be a memory? Being able to draw on the positive emotions from that day and the possibility more could be in store allows us to move forward and accept time is fleeting. After all, it needs to be this way if we are going to capture another fantastic beginning.
We control how our time is spent. While a great deal of religious and philosophical energies have been spent attempting to determine whether we are the captains of our destiny, the simple truth is we ultimately control what we do with the time we have. We decide if we spend it working 60 hours a week, writing the next great American Novel or attempting to understand the greater mysteries of the universe. Brilliant in its simplicity, its amazing how quickly we forget this. We lament the loss of time as we waste countless hours and days trying to figure out how to preserve it, when instead we should be striving to get the most out of every second.
Ultimately time will continue its steady march forward. No matter how much we would like it to slow down. However, by focusing on the beginnings, learning from the past, and seizing the moment our perception of this uncontrollable era might look a bit brighter. Living each day with this realization in mind will enable us to utilize our past experiences to make the decisions today that will make tomorrow worthwhile. After all, as the great Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.”