There is quite a bit of discussion these days about natural resources, especially about those that are considered non-renewable. Some of the examples of concern today are coal, oil, natural gas and fresh water. There are limited amounts of these on Earth and people are concerned about conservation. The likely reality is that science and technology will develop alternatives for these or find ways to maintain them. The solutions may require changes to our lifestyles or the cost we have to pay, but there are alternatives. The likelihood is that life will go on.
Yet there is one commodity that is finite and cannot be expanded or engineered…
That is time. We each only have 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Each of us has a limited amount of time in this life. No one knows how much time they have, but each person has an expiration date. There is no way to avoid death. It will happen to each of us.
Knowing that our time is limited, the challenge is how to spend the time that we are given. Many of us, especially when we are younger, feel that we “have all the time in the world.” The end of our lives seems something so far in the future that we don’t even consider it in our decisions. If we make a bad decision now or waste time, there is always plenty of time to fix it or to get back on track. Right? WRONG! We can lose an opportunity completely or lose a loved one unexpectedly.
If our time is not used in fulfilling our life purpose on this Earth or in bringing us joy, is it the best use of the one thing we cannot buy or negotiate more of? Should we not be asking ourselves, “Is this activity the best use of my time right now?” If that is the question, how do we discern the answer? Here are a few questions that will tell us:
1) Does this bring me joy in the moment?
2) Does this bring me closer to my desire?
3) Does this serve me in accomplishing my life purpose?
If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” then we need to are on the wrong path and need to decide how to change course to get back on track.
Another aspect of using time well, is not just in how we are spending our time; it is also in doing things at the right time. This has to do with the “when” of our actions. It’s not always enough to know what we need to do. Sometimes it’s just as important to know when we need to do it. For some things, the difference between today and tomorrow is critical. Time and appropriate timing is important in every area of our lives. We may say the perfect thing to a loved one that makes their day and results in them being in the right frame of mind to land a job or make the perfect connection. Or we may miss an opportunity to right a wrong.
From personal experience, I know the pain of not following a message about timing. In September, 2008, my father was extremely ill with cancer. I did not appreciate the gravity of the situation. We had a conversation on a Tuesday night about a business trip I was going to take for the next two days. My father asked, “Do you really need to go?”
I did not understand that his question was a message that I needed to stay; a message that time was an issue. My reply was, “Yes, but I will be back on Friday night. I will see you then.” I left Wednesday morning for the trip. On Thursday, I got a call. “Your dad has been taken to the hospital. The doctor is sending him to hospice. He has asked for a priest. I think you need to come home now.”
I left immediately, arriving 8 hours later. By that time, my dad was in hospice and in a coma. I never had the chance to speak with him. Early Tuesday morning, he passed.
I ignored the message that I needed to spend the time with my father. I chose to spend the time with my job. I chose poorly. I did not understand how limited his time really was. I thought I had plenty of time left with him. I was wrong and I will never get that time back.
It was a painful, but powerful lesson – if what you choose to do is not what gives you joy or moves you forward on your true path in this life, it is a waste of your most precious, and limited, resource.