Time is a gift: be present

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present

Eleanor Roosevelt

We tend to speak about time in financial terms – waste, spend, (time) management. Like money, we fear not having enough of it, which makes it a struggle to be present to appreciate a moment for what it is

“Caring for [yourself] is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare,”.

Audre Lorde, A Burst of Light

I have found that being present has benefits beyond appreciating a beautiful moment: it allows us to have better relationships with ourselves and others. During my conversation with Lydia, she revealed that neglecting her needs was her greatest failure. It led me to realise that without being present, it will be difficult to recognise what our needs are in the first place. It takes an intentionality, a ruthlessness to decide that you are going to be present in a fast-paced world. Whilst we cannot ignore our to-do lists, it is important for us to use our time in a way that better serves us and our needs. For we cannot give to others what we ourselves do not have. So, as Audre Lorde said: “Caring for [yourself] is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare,”.

“Sadness is poetic, you’re lucky to live sad moments… I was grateful to be sad and then I met it with true, profound happiness”

Louis C.K.

I recently read an article by Andrew Sullivan, who detailed his journey with ‘Distraction Sickness’. Through this, I was led to an interview with Louis C.K., who makes a profound point about the general inability to sit in moments of sorrow. He speaks of the tendency for phones to be used as escapism – texting everyone we know in the hopes that we do not have to confront our sad moments. Hearing this challenged me to start “sitting” in my moments of sadness, and also to accept that I am not always going to be on “a high”. The beauty of being present even in moments of sadness is that it allows for eventual resolution, whilst distraction prolongs the resolution.

‘For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven’

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)

Time is indeed a gift, and like many others, I desire to use my time better – making the most of every day. I intentionally did not use the language of ”wasting” time as I have come to the conclusion that time is not something that can be “wasted”. Rather it is something that can be used in the wrong way, in a way that is incompatible with your current season of life. King Solomon, who is thought to be the wisest man who ever lived writes in the Book of Ecclesiastes: ‘For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven’. If you should read further on in the chapter, you will not find anything about wasting time. Instead, there is the acknowledgement that life happens in seasons, and each season requires our time to be used in a particular way.

Further reading

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