On the Shortness of Time (#110)

Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger or simply Seneca wrote a moral essay sometime back in 49 AD titled ‘De Brevitate Vitae‘ (‘On the Shortness of Life‘ in English) This article is partly inspired by his Stoic philosophy.


The average life lasts for about:
630,720 hours.
26,280 days.
3,750 weeks.
864 months.
7.2 decades.
72 years.

If you get 8 hours of sleep every night, the average awake life runs down to two-thirds of all the above numbers. That is:

420,480 hours
17,520 days
2,500 weeks
576 months
4.8 decades
48 years

That means if you live for 72 years, you’re going to be sleeping for:
210,240 hours = 8760 days = 1250 weeks = 288 months = 2.4 decades = 24 years of your life.
Rest is a very expensive investment.

Everyone’s days are numbered. And as much as it may seem looking at the data above; that we have a short time here on Earth, our senses could be a delusion. Indeed with reference to cosmic scales, our lives are a blink of an eye. But we don’t live our lives on a cosmic scale. No where near it! We hear so many people saying life is short. People always keep running out of the one thing which probably every wise human would agree is the most valuable thing anyone could have — time. We give time so much importance, and appreciate how short we think we have of it; but clumsily fail to put our beliefs into practice.
Although we observe “time is short”, our actions do not match with that observation. We waste that short period. And then we waste more time thinking how less time life gives us.
Only if our actions would match our words, thoughts and beliefs… That would be ideal, but it’s not easy to put in.

“People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.”

Seneca

We have time. A lot of it. But we spend that lot where there is not a need nor desire to spend. And hence we don’t seem to have enough time for things signifying a need or desire to spend time on.

We think of the past today, and expect the future also today. In so doing, we never live. Anyone stuck in the past or future, is never here, was never here, and will never be here. 

If we learn to spend time on desires that agree with our delayed gratification causes as well as live in the present moment, we shall never lament of having less time. Spending time in the right and desired way will never make us regret on our deathbed that life is short, because …

Life is long if you know how to use it.

Seneca

It’s turning into a cliché now that most people don’t regret the things they did, but the ones they didn’t do. Some seem to never have done the things they most wished to do in this one life they all get on this beautiful planet. It’s not time that’s the culprit behind this regret. It’s the individual’s priorities. If you’re going to die tomorrow and didn’t live your life the way you wanted to, you literally have no one you can blame but you. You’re accountable for the things you do in this moment. The time you spend. On what purpose you spend it. Time isn’t something you can save and use up later. Time is now. It never stops, probably never even started, and will never end. But life will come to an end. And trust me, no one wants to be moaning over the fact that they’re going to die really fast and they didn’t live the life they wanted to, and blame life’s shortness for it.

It’s perspective. You look at time at there being plenty of it, when you’re young. When you get old, you get so-called wisdom, that time is really running out and life is short. But the way to spend time and life, is neither like the young, partying every night, nor like the old, feeling sorry for all the time they wasted in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. The way to spend one’s life is like the child. The child lives in the moment. The child has no past, and no future to worry about. It lives in the present, doing the thing it wants to do. Probably that’s why we have the most unique memories of our childhood. We didn’t care about a future. When someone would ask us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, we’d have new answers every week.
“I want to be an elephant when I grow up”, I once had an answer for the question when I was a kid. It’s funny I didn’t go to the zoo and hand myself in yet to fulfill my dream.

Live today, live now, and most troubles in your life will disappear; just like that.

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