“How long are these rounds?” I overheard.
“I’m not sure, 6 to 10 minutes maybe. It seems short.”
This brief exchange between two of my students whisked me away to a reoccurring thought I keep having: The idea of how the entire concept of Time, and what it meant to me has changed, well, over time.
I attempted to encapsulate the mind shift and what time meant to me after the class, but how do you explain something so deep in a 6 minute-end-of-class speech? It’s difficult, but perhaps via text, I can clarify. Below I attempt to sum up three of the main changes on how I view time. These changes occurred in a brief moment, between the ages of 27-30.
1. Take Ownership & Responsibility for Your Time.
Upon reflection and current reading, I’ve come to the conclusion that my time is literally the only thing I truly possess in this entire universe, and because of this, I must strive to efficiently use, exponentially grow, and maximize every second of it.
Think about what that means for a minute. The time in which I have in a day, a man-made 24 hour label used to describe the movement of stars, is what I have to work with for 365 days out of the year, until I die. So I asked myself, isn’t that time worth fighting for, worth attempting to maximize and grow? Isn’t this a question worth seeking the answer to?
I’ve learned that if I was not careful or even made aware of who or what was owning my time, I could find myself squandering my most precious asset. I guess you could say I developed both a deep fear and new understanding of what time increments meant to me. There is absolutely nothing like fear as motivation to change habits, so I found myself reading more, watching TV less. Making sure what I was doing, and who I was doing it with, was worth both my energy and focus. At this point, you may find certain activities, or even people, that are a drain on your time. Look to eliminate or significantly downsize time spent here.
I had to reorganize my life and training, but in doing so, I took a step towards what I believe to be more efficient use of my time.
Man, if I could go back in time, this would be the one characteristic I would have focused much more of my energy on sooner. Prior to this mental shift, I believe I was extremely impatient. I felt like a true Veruca Salt, minus the singing of course. I wanted it all and I wanted it NOW.
I discovered that I lacked the patience and foresight to see my future, how my current actions would hamstring future results. I lived almost exclusively in the selfish present. But awareness brings upon change and knowledge follows the realization of ignorance. Once I realized I lacked patience, I began to deliberately put myself in situations where my patience would be tested. You know, going to the DMV. Attempting to simply mail a letter at the post office. Stopping at yellow lights or purposely driving behind a slow driver. My favorite? Teaching a 5 year old how to do, umm, anything.
Anywhere I could find an opportunity to boost my patience, I took it. I began to see small changes at first. Less anger and reduced stress. More understanding that other people are probably not deliberately wasting my time, and why would they? Am I the center of the universe where all time revolves around me? Christ, no. I found myself slowly coming to terms that there is rarely ever a true need to rush anything. On the flip side, I also realized that slowness to act and utilize time can actually be used as a weapon. Art of War status achieved, shout out to Sun Tzu.
Via the pursuit of patience, I stumbled upon how to wield time as a weapon and how to make it work a bit more in my favor.
3. That Fleeting Feeling.
The 2 books which contributed the most to my mind shift were Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and Essays in Idleness by Kenkō. One was an Emperor of Rome. The other was a Buddhist monk. I figured they knew a little something about time, and life.
What I took away from both of these books is that human time is in a constant state of use. It goes by whether you want it to or not, controlled or out of control, by choice or forcefully deprived. Time waits for no one. Because of it’s limited characteristic, time actually fuels me to do things that I normally wouldn’t do. Make a statement and follow through with it. Dream big and be completely unreasonable with what I ask of the world. Because in the end, I want to be able to say I did what I could in the time in which I was given.
When I approach my life with this mindset, I find that I think less of what people say can or cannot be done, the thought fuels my ambition to do things that were at one point, larger than myself, out of my reach. But with this understanding, I find myself asking the question differently. No longer is it, “What am I capable of doing?” It has become, “What am I not capable of doing?”